As the Coronavirus continues to spread, businesses, governments, startups and citizens in South Africa are all playing their part. While the death toll remains low, infections have not decreased as initially hoped.
Tech companies, government and big businesses are putting their best foot forward to fight the pandemic while harnessing tech innovations. Inside Telecom sheds light on some of the instances where tech is playing a major part in combatting COVID-19 and opening up new ways for South Africans to work and connect.
Utilizing WhatsApp for communications
As WhatsApp is the most popular communication platform and app in the country, the Department of Health rapidly adopted WhatsApp to help support citizens (over 15 million messages), and it was made available to 1.5 million citizens within the first week in five different languages. The helpline allows users to send questions or queries and receive automated messages and responses. It also makes use of the latest updates from the World Health Organization
Government partners up with tech
The South African government has reached out to tech recruitment company OfferZen claiming that, “it is critical that the government works collaboratively with South African tech companies and individuals to leverage our tech capabilities in the fight against COVID-19”. This has sparked up several initiatives such as Vulnerable Communities Map that makes use of publicly available data to highlight and identify vulnerable communities.
Pandemic pushes e-commerce forward
Before COVID-19, South Africa was behind in e-commerce and home delivery, however, the pandemic accelerated growth and made online business a reality for its citizens. Food supplier Daily Dish was given essential supplier status while the lockdown ensued in South Africa, they witnessed their customer base jump up 150 percent. Competitors such as OneCart also reported a surge in business, and there are hopes that these new behaviors or shopping patterns will outlast the pandemic.
Telkom Operator works on contact tracing
South Africa’s largest telecommunications company, Telkom, has teamed up with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), to develop and implement a track and trace solution that works by identifying people who may have contracted the virus.