President Cyril Ramaphosa called this “the most definitive Thuma Mina moment for South Africa”.

So when my good friend, Anda, reached out to me for help, the obvious answer was yes. I am proud to be a part of this initiative, but we need your help too.

Anda tells us more about Combat COVID-19 Africa below:

The world is experiencing something that our generation has never experienced before. COVID-19 has caused health systems around the world to invest additional resources to ensure they can deal with this virus adequately. As I write this post, both the United States of America and Italy have more infections than the whole of China, where the virus originated. Closer to home, cases on the African continent continue to grow. The World Economic Forum recently called for a unique approach to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Africa. The reason behind this is because Africa has a large number of people who live with HIV/AIDS. Many people on our continent also don’t have the luxury of social distancing, as is the case in Europe. People living in poverty have to share essential services, and this will have an impact on the spread of COVID-19 on the continent.

As I wrote this post, COVID-19 had infected over 10000 Africans, and with a vaccine still, months away, Africans are rushing to find solutions to help combat the spread of the virus. Given the state of the health system in many African countries, experts worry that COVID-19 might completely collapse the health systems of many countries around the continent. As it stands, many African countries’ medical systems are already overburdened even under normal circumstances. This paints a worrying picture of what the future holds. 

Innovators all over the continent are finding ways to curb the spread of COVID-19. One important sector that is working hard to develop solutions is the technology sector. This is evident when we look at the various applications that have been launched in the past two months in all parts of the continent. A project I’d like to make mention of is COVIID, a track and trace application developed by a team of South Africans. Projects such as these give me hope that as a continent, we will come together and think of innovative solutions to dealing with this pandemic. 

Given that African countries face the same problems when dealing with COVID-19, the solutions developed by people all over the continent can be applied to other countries. Collaboration amongst developers helping curb the spread of COVID-19 has been minimal. I attribute this to the lack of a platform to help them share ideas and offer assistance to each other. I personally believe that as African innovators, we need a collaborative effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

 I am happy to announce that a few of us around the continent have begun developing a solution to increase collaboration amongst people developing solutions to curb the spread of COVID-19 on the African continent.  As the group who are developing this platform, we initially met on March 25th where participants from all over the continent shared how they had all individually been working on projects related to COVID-19. After this initial meeting, we began developing the Combat COVID-19 Africa platform.

Here is a brief explanation of the platform:

Combat COVID-19 Africa is a collaborative platform that aims to connect African digital volunteers helping combat the spread of COVID-19. The platform offers digital volunteers free access to cloud computing resources to help them build and scale their solutions. By doing this, the platform hopes to enable collaboration amongst all Africans working to stop the spread of COVID-19. The platform will connect software developers, data scientists, network engineers and any other individuals who wish to develop solutions to help the continent fight the spread of COVID-19. This pan-African platform will allow digital volunteers to work together to solve the continent’s toughest issues when fighting coronavirus while receiving funding support in cloud resources from several donors. 

The platform can be used by three types of users:

  • Digital Volunteers: These are individuals with programming skills that either have existing COVID-19 solutions or who want to develop new solutions in collaboration with other digital volunteers  
  • Stakeholders: We consider stakeholders to be any individual or organization who has been impacted heavily by COVID-19. Some examples include non-profits, health professionals, governments etc  
  • Data Donors: Data donors are individuals who have access to data that might assist digital volunteers with solving problems related to COVID-19 

Below please find a high-level overview of the platform’s workflow:

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It brings me great joy to be part of a project that will bring about collaboration on the continent. As of April 16th, we have had over 380 signs up from over 24 countries all over the world. We haven’t even launched yet but participants on our slack are constantly messaging about ways we can all work together to build impactful solutions for the continent.  What excites me even more is the impact a platform like this will have in a post COVID-19 Africa. 

The platform will be live on April 25th, but we are holding weekly calls to encourage participation and to raise awareness about the existence of the platform. I call on all of you to join our weekly calls by registering here www.combatcovid-19.africa

I am proud to be a part of this platform as a digital volunteer, and I call on my fellow Africans to join the platform too!

Anda Ngcaba is a young and innovative South African with a deep passion for purpose-driven technology. He’s a UCT graduate, a Co-Founder and Chairperson of NPO Born-to-be-Free and a portfolio manager at the Ngcaba Family Office.

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