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Coronavirus in Africa: what the tech community is doing

Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Africa, various individuals, firms and government agencies have developed initiatives and projects towards curtailing the effect and increase of the virus within the shackles of the continent. These projects are designed to ensure the safety of individuals as well as equipping them with appropriate tools and platforms where they can learn how to keep themselves active where it was advised by the WHO for all individuals to stay at home.

It is obvious that individuals staying at home in Africa can be quite depressing considering the low rate of necessities provided in most of the countries in Africa. However, the projects and initiatives developed by these individuals, entities, and agencies have provided means in ensuring that all people inhabiting Africa remain productive as well as being safe and secured. Some of the initiatives and projects include:

Generating power with portable Inverter

Mark Essien, the founder and CEO of Hotels.ng, one of the first online hotel booking websites in Nigeria has announced on Twitter the invention of a portable inverter that is capable of handling uninterrupted power supply to run household electric devices. According to the post on twitter, the inverter could be very handy and useful for people working from home and those people who live in an area where there is limited power supply. For more information about the ordering services and method of delivery of the portable inverter, you can check Mark Essien’s twitter handle.

Facebook, Microsoft, TikTok partner with WHO for coronavirus hackathon

Facebook, Microsoft, TikTok, and several other tech companies are partnering with the World Health Organization and other health experts for #BuildforCOVID19, a global hackathon that aims to find software solutions for challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he’s hopeful that useful prototypes and ideas will come out of the effort. “Hackathons have always been an important part of how we come up with new ideas and projects at Facebook,” Zuckerberg wrote, “Features like Blood Donations and Crisis Response were first built during hackathons,” 

Other companies supporting the hackathon include Slack, Pinterest, Twitter, WeChat, Giphy and Slow Ventures. 

The WHO and other experts will provide guidance on what projects could deliver the most impact and address key needs during the outbreak. Developers are encouraged to build projects focused on the themes of health, vulnerable populations, businesses, community, education, and entertainment.

The hackathon will accept submissions March 26-30, and the top projects will be announced on April 3.  You can apply for the hackathon on devpost.

SMEs in Nigeria, other Countries to Benefit From Facebook $100m

In other to effectively halt the spread of the pandemic outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID- 19) and ensure people stay at home, social media giant Facebook has issued a statement saying that it has approved $100 million to assist small, medium enterprise (SMEs) in Nigeria and 29 other countries where its employees live and work.

According to the issued statement, Facebook is taking this step to curtail the spread of the covid-19 virus and help global health experts broadcast the right information as one of the surest ways of halting the spread of the virus is to people stay home.

Captured below is the statement released by Facebook

Our thoughts, like everyone’s, are with our loved ones and our communities and all of those impacted around the world.”

We’ve listened to small businesses to understand how we can best help them. We’ve heard loud and clear that financial support could enable them to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work.”

That’s why today I’m announcing that Facebook is investing $100 million to help 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries where our employees live and work.

“That’s just the start. We also want to make it easier for businesses everywhere to find help and receive training and support from our teams.

We’ve made our Business Hub a resource for Facebook employees and health experts readily available for all. We are also creating new virtual training to support businesses operating in this new and unsettling environment.”

We want to do more and teams across our company are working every day to help businesses. We are also looking at additional ways to host virtual training (more updates on this will be shared in the coming weeks).”

We’re finding more ways to help people connect and learn to use technology through Blueprint, our free e-learning training program.”

Whatever happens next, we will be working to help businesses weather this storm. Please keep safe and look out for those around you.

“For some weeks now, we have seen inspiring examples of individuals and groups helping each other.”

“People across the globe are stepping up, rising to the enormous challenge in front of us. We want to do our part too.”

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities, and many of the people who run these businesses are heavily affected by the crisis especially as more and more people sensibly stay home.”

The longer the crisis goes on, the greater the risk to small businesses and to the livelihoods of their owners and employees,” the statement read.

MTN Joins other organizations to implement work from home

MTN Joins other organizations to implement work from home

Telecoms giant, MTN recently effected the work from home plan as swift measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

This step was taken to ensure the safety of its stakeholders as the outbreak ravages the world on a grand scale.

However, the telecoms platform has assured its users of keeping up with the continuity of business and ensuring connectivity.

MTN had stated, “Following official confirmation of Covid-19 cases in some of our markets, MTN Group has taken a series of precautionary measures to ensure continuity of services and the safety of its stakeholders including employees, customers, communities, and suppliers against the potential outbreak.

Our services over this time will be even more critical, so a priority is ensuring network continuity, availability of spares and equipment and the upgrading of capacity.

We wish to assure our stakeholders that the implementation of precautionary measures will have a negligible impact on our operations. We need to “keep the connectivity lights on for our customers at all costs.”

MTN has already installed thermal scanners at their various facilities to detect abnormal body temperature and also ensured measures of hygiene such as hand washing and the use of sanitizers.

Asides from the work from home plan for its employees, MTN has also placed travel restrictions on an international journey and also drastically reducing local travels.

The telecoms giant has however implored its numerous customers, employees, and stakeholders to avoid panic and take essential measures stated by health organizations to curtail the spread of the disease.

MTN has continued to monitor the case globally and has followed all relevant guidelines by the World Health Organisation and local health bodies.

APO Group Coronavirus Initiative for Africa

APO Group Coronavirus Initiative for Africa

APO Group is the leading Pan-African communications and business consultancy. APO assists private and public organizations in sharpening their reputation and increasing their brand equity in target countries across Africa.

The company is currently looking for a talented public relations volunteer to join their Coronavirus Initiative for Africa. The job role/ volunteer role is to remotely Working closely with the Founder and Chairman of APO Group, the volunteer will gain firsthand experience by being responsible for the ‘APO Group Coronavirus Initiative for Africa’, a series of pro-bono initiatives to support the fight against coronavirus in Africa. Individuals who are living in Africa can apply for this volunteering opportunity via Linkedin.

CcHub funds tech to curb Coronavirus in Africa

CcHub funds tech to curb Coronavirus in Africa

Africa’s largest innovation incubator, CcHub, will offer funding and engineering support to tech projects aimed at curbing COVID-19 and its social and economic impact.

The Lagos and Nairobi based organization posted an open application on its website this week, according to CcHub CEO Bosun Tijani.

CcHub will provide $5,000 to $100,000 funding blocks to companies with COVID-19 related projects covering last-mile communication, support for the infected and the most vulnerable, production of essential medical supplies and support for disrupted food supply-chains.

The organization, and its iHub affiliate, will also open up engineering support and resources from its CcHub Design Lab to funded companies, according to Tijani.

He noted that established startups that want to create COVID-19 related projects on the side of their core-business can apply.

The initiative stems from concerns Africa could be less prepared than other regions in dealing with an outbreak of the virus that has spread in China, Europe, and the U.S. and is wreaking economic havoc globally.

ETHLagos Hackathon

ETHLagos, an AfricaHacks Member Event

ETHLagos is a different kind of hackathon focused on power and is an opportunity to work alongside the developers, thought leaders, advisers, and companies who are making the infrastructure and applications that will evolve the power sector using the Ethereum Blockchain. ETHLagos will be co-organized by leaders in Blockchain, the Energy sector, and International Development to build up the local blockchain talent to generate practical solutions to the Nigerian Energy Crisis.

EthLagos is planning to hold its hackathon virtually as an option to take preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19. For more information on how you can apply for the hackathon, you can contact them via their website, email, and twitter handle.

These are some of the initiatives which top companies and governments have put in place to curb the spread of Coronavirus in Africa. Please ensure that you stay safe at home and also strictly follow the guidelines put in place by the WHO.