In the first two months of the COVID19 virus spread, the African continent, home to over 1.2 billion people, remained unaffected until the first case was reported in Nigeria on February 28. This was quickly followed by new cases in Egypt and Algeria, and the wider African continent with the rate of infection still growing.
As of March 24th, 43 African countries have reported more than 800 cases of active infections. Sadly, in-country infections continue to increase even as governments enhance measures to control the spread. For instance, South Africa recently shut down 66% of its land borders, but infection rates are now six-folds, with Northern Cape being the last province out of the country’s nine, to report more cases of COVID-19.
SOUTH AFRICA: CURRENT STATE & POLICY RESPONSE:
In a recent press release, the government notes that it anticipates 60 – 70 % of the population to be infected, and of those, 20% to be seriously ill, should all measures not be sufficient.
The country has been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19, view South Africa’s first policy response, state of the Nation address – March 15, 2020.
With the newly imposed 21-day lockdown in the country, effective March 26, 2020, South Africa will have to deploy technology not only in its delivery of health services but also in facilitating the supply of basic commodities to its wider population. As is, retailers have had to impose rationed selling across their stores after a reported upsurge in the purchase of hygiene and food products.
USING TECHNOLOGY IN KEY AREAS:
Alongside the outbreak of the disease is the deployment of a myriad of AI-powered technology that is being used. Technologies being tested and in use include Covid Symptom Tracker, a trial app that tracks symptoms, and TerraDrone & MicroMultiCopter, to track the spread and enforce control measures through drones. Other technologies are also taking center stage in bridging human interactions in the wake of the pandemic. Such include, health apps with chatbots, streamlined medical supply chains, self-delivery solutions such as JD.com among others.
AN ECOSYSTEM OF TECHNOLOGY-DRIVEN SOLUTIONS:
To identify how technology could be used to combat the spread of CoronaVirus in South Africa, WT Research compiled an ecosystem of applications and services that the masses and businesses in South Africa can use while they isolate. The ecosystem is focused on providing services on eight key segments.
These include Food & Delivery, Home Healthcare, Healthcare products, eCommerce, Logistics, Internet Service Provision, Fintech, Media & Entertainment, and On-demand services.
These services and applications will complement the social distancing directive imposed by the government as well as the Work from Home initiative which has been made mandatory by most corporates across the country and globe.
It helps that technological infrastructure is available in all provinces and their major cities.
Our analysis indicates that 75% of these applications and services are available nationwide with the exception of food delivery and on-demand home care services which account for the remaining 25%, and are predominantly available in Gauteng and Western Cape. The distribution of critical services, however, is proportionate as services such as fintech, eCommerce, logistics, and healthcare are available across the country. It is well-matched with 66% of internet penetration and usage in South Africa. These play a critical role in combating the spread of Covid-19.
We also identified a number of B2B providers targeting small to large businesses. A majority of the players are end-to-end eCommerce enablers and Fintech SaaS solution providers. Such include SMEasy in Fintech, eComplete in eCommerce, and Vula Mobile in Health tech. The current shock introduces a unique complexity to economic forecasting. However, in the near term, we see a trend where businesses integrate with cloud computing solutions to reach the market. In the middle and long term, businesses will prioritize the automation of lead processes and customer safeguarding measures.
Below, we map the South African provinces by service provision. WT Research mapped representative cities and towns to demonstrate the distribution.
Below, we feature 30+ technology-powered solutions that will aid combat the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa.
|Company / Platform||Industry|
|Pick n Pay||eCommerce|
|Vula Mobile||Home Healthcare|
|Faithful to Nature||Home Healthcare|
|Wellness Warehouse||Home Healthcare|
|Flook Sports Wear||Home Healthcare|
|Scout Technologies||Home Healthcare|
|Raru Books||Media & Entertainment|
|Sweep South||On demand services|
|Spacebox||On demand services|
Important links on South Africa’s Latest COVID19 Status