In order to check the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Olakunle Yakubu, a Nigerian Tech Entrepreneur, has developed Stay-Safe.NG for Covid-19 contact tracing
Yakubu is a Microsoft solutions expert and founder of ITD Africa, an NGO that focuses on building IT infrastructures to provide solutions to Africa’s problems. With Covid-19 cases steadily rising, he identified the need of technological solutions to assist health workers fight the outbreak.
According to Yakubu, many other countries while adopting the right testing and social distancing rules that are needed to help curb the spread of COVID-19, are also figuring out ways to apply IT technology through data analysis to the problem of contact tracing.
Stay-SafeNG is a digital contact tracing application that helps in the identification of persons who may have come in contact with an infected person
Stay-Safe is an idea we got based on the current pandemic raging the globe. We followed the trend of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we were also figuring out ways to apply IT technology through data analysis to the problem of contact tracing
Olakunle Yakubu, founder of ITD Africa
Stay-SafeNG requires the users to register on the platform before stepping into public places. Their check-in time is automatically registered on a cloud-based database. If any registered user gets tested positive for coronavirus, backward tracing can be done to determine the names and contacts of the people that have been exposed to the virus through contact with the new case.
An SMS notification informing those that have been exposed will ensure that they are at alert and also get tested.
The country has been struggling with finding a balance between tackling the economic recession due to the lockdown and the increased spread of diseases with the relaxed lockdown. Yakubu proposes Stay-SafeNG as a way to curb the spread of the disease without interrupting economic activities.
With Stay-SafeNG, the government can basically kill two birds with one stone. Keep the economy functioning at an optimal rate and keep track of the spread of the virus.
Olakunle Yakubu, founder of ITD Africa
Implementation of digital Contact Tracing in Nigeria: Possible Challenges
Content tracing apps have already been adopted in 29 other countries including Malaysia, Germany, Singapore and France. While these countries have recorded successes they acknowledge some challenges especially a low percentage of downloads.
The number of downloads is clearly crucial to the success of a contact-tracing app because the more people who have it, the more likely it becomes to detect an infection.
In Singapore, only one person in three downloaded the TraceTogether App by end of June 2020, despite legal requirements for most workers. France which launched its app four weeks ago has barely 3% of the population downloading the app.
Prof Martin Hibberd from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says there is no question that a number of countries have a working contact tracing app.
The point is that these apps are working, but not yet reaching sufficient percentages of the population to be relied on as the sole means of contact tracing
Prof. Martin Hibberd, Professor of Emerging Infectious Diseases
Currently, only around 10 to 20% of the population in Nigeria is using smartphones. With this low-percentage of smartphone users especially in rural areas, digital contact tracing will face major challenges in Nigeria.
Notwithstanding these challenges, the Digital contact tracing app Stay-SafeNG is celebrated as a welcome innovation in the midst of the pandemic.
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