(The Economic Bail-Out for African States in Lockdown using technology)
NB: These steps are to prevent a catastrophic consequence of copying the western world lockdown structure without first accessing the long-term effects on the economy. Most importantly, prevent a resurgence of cases which will hamper previous efforts after lockdown is lifted. We acknowledge that to perfect these steps outlined here, African governments must deliberate on the possible ways and alternatives available to them in their home countries. In Ghana, this could be very possible.
- Health System Digitization (At the 6th- 8th week of lockdown)
If this is already in your country, you could skip to the next stage. It might seem too late but better late than never. If what happens in my country should be similar in sub-Saharan Africa, most patients have hard copy hospital folders with a few private hospitals running an independent hospital management software that feeds from its independent database. Policy makers and key stake holders must decide the best way to do this during this lockdown. Depending on your country. I suggest releasing software to all hospitals/community health centers (both private and public). Then allowing everyone to go with a valid I.D to register and complete the migration of their health folders. If this process might take longer than expected, alternatives can be used. Like citizens who are I.T literates entering it online at home. But let’s ask ourselves, what a better time to right our wrongs. The one platform to be connected to one database. NB. Software should not be web based to prevent internet connectivity from hampering the process.
- Now that you have a functional health database of, if not all, majority of your population on a single health database, you now develop application programs to be used. I suggest a social media app like platform where people could get to interact with each other. Basically, a social platform for the virus intertwined with meeting new people, an instant messenger inclusive. No need to block other apps due to the continuing functionalities below. Secondly, a USSD application for non-smartphone users with little interaction.
- The app mandates each person to update their health status once a day/week/two weeks. Either on a smartphone, a USSD or a WebApp. These restrictions apply on the app.
- Color codes for each category of citizens depending on their health updates and number/type of contacts. Red, yellow, Green for my country. The codes show in text or color depending on the medium used to check.
- Now you deploy an admin platform that can help vendors and authorities enforcing the lockdown to help regulate the system. Pharmacies, Supermarkets will be mandated to purchase smart devices they can use to check for color codes of entrants before allowing entry.
- CCTV cameras for facial recognition (If possible, in your country) should be used together with cell towers to provide accurate data on who exactly has been where and with whom they might have met. The CCTV cameras can only be installed at vantage police checkpoints if cost will be deterrent. If not, only cell towers could be combined with Artificial intelligence and machine learning from the back end of the app.
- Now using the same ID, citizens registered with you begin tightening the lockdown more by letting registration on the app be a requirement for any movement or purchase in key areas of food supplies. In clustered markets, a barrier is created before entry since market women would not have the time to check for your status.
- Now you begin tagging people with the colors. Which color can cross a barrier, which can go into a supermarket, which one should immediately self-isolate?
- Text messages are sent to people who have come in contact with tested infected people to immediately self-isolate. Or they will be arrested. The COVID-19 team now visits them and tests them as they isolate for the 14 days. Whether you have shown any signs or not.
- This is what technology can do with a lockdown and more. Because now businesses can go back to work like China and the economy can be saved. Slowly, the society will be introduced into the new world we have to live in.
ADVANTAGES OF THE CURRENT PANDEMIC FOR AFRICA
1. LOCAL INDUSTRY- Birth of Africa’s Industrial Revolution and self-reliance. Finally, with the whole world busy manufacturing for themselves, African countries and leaders will now have the advantage of changing the foreign taste of citizens. Most countries are now forced to rely only on local produce. This will boost major key industry players.
2. HEALTH: After taking the greatest hit, they might just come back as one of them. After implementation of the various mechanisms suggested in this document. African governments will finally pay attention to improving the health sector. They will have a very powerful tool called data, and right at OPD, patients can be segregated preventing spread of infectious diseases in hospitals. Nurses and Doctors will now have adequate protective suites for any similar outbreak in the country.
3. I.T: Finally, Information technology could have a solid foundation in our economies. With various digital platforms from both private and public entities rejected by citizens, they might have no choice but to succumb and learn. E-payments can now be easily made mandatory in certain sectors. Working from home and online will soon help ease traffic and reduce unemployment with new ideas spring up .
4. EDUCATION: Our educational systems have had to take a nose dive to succumb to online education. A platform that has even in current times, been rejected by accreditation boards across the continent. Education will now have to be online also. Barriers of inadequate infrastructure hampering education is now being broken. Many more to come in the coming months.
5. ECONOMY: With a digital economy, stock markets in Africa might easily become more valuable. Just yet, Africa’s economy will gradually fall on industry and production for itself and other countries due to its grave underutilization of its own resources.