According to a research paper by a Kampala based Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) titled, “how technology is aiding the COVID 19 fight in Africa” technology has become one of the most important tools Africa is using in its fight against the noble coronavirus. For the spread of the virus to be minimized, technology has to play a role for people to observe social distancing such as mobile money use for payment of food and services, online teaching and learning, among others.
It was stated clearly in the paper that various governments have taking technology so quickly as they can in Africa to help handle the situation. “Various governments have been quick to encourage mobile money use for local transactions and payment for goods and services in lieu of cash, to stem the contagion,” Kampala-based CIPESA said on its research paper titled “How Technology is Aiding the COVID-19 Fight in Africa”, published last week.
CIPESA further added that The various measures which include, travel bans, curfews, the prohibition of mass gatherings, lockdown and self-isolation, the closing of bars and schools among others taken by African governments to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus has boosted the use of digital technologies. In response, mobile network operators have increased daily limits and waived fees on nominal transfers via mobile money.
Effective March 17, for 90 days, Kenya’s Safaricom increased the daily transaction limit via M-Pesa from Kenya Shillings (KES) 140,000 to KES 300,000 (USD 1,400 to USD 3,000) and waived fees off peer-to-peer transfers up to USD 10.
Airtel and MTN have done the same in their major markets including Cameroon, Ghana, Rwanda, Sudan, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.
CIPESA said that other efforts by telecom companies include doubling internet speeds for home fiber packages at no extra cost to users for at least a month. There is also the deployment of Google Loon to boost 4G network coverage in remote areas in Kenya and less cost in mobile money transactions as well.
Airtel Uganda launched a zero-rating information from the health ministry website and free SMS text messaging services to ‘keep public connected’ and most telcos have introduced a campaign of free to educate the public on the pandemic as well