Although Africa has registered only three percent of the world’s COVID-19 cases, the continent is feeling the economic impacts of the pandemic more heavily than those of the disease. Investment in digital resources, especially in the agricultural sector, will be key for Africa’s recovery from the pandemic.
Tech resources have already proved vitally important for Africa during the pandemic. It has allowed for the widespread distribution of health information and virus-prevention measures. WHO also depends on 6,000 community members in 11 countries, from traditional healers to village chiefs, to report symptomatic patients to the WHO via their mobile phones.
Additionally, mobile phone and internet access offered some economic relief as vendors moved their services to virtual platforms.
The UN is predicting a “hunger pandemic” will be the next challenge to face the continent as economic struggles and climate change implications ravage Africa. Tech resources strengthen Africa’s food security by offering timely climate data about when and what to plant, but additional investments in digital infrastructure are still needed.
Google, NASA, and Columbia University’s Earth Institute are working to roll out their Enhancing National Climate Services (ENACTS) initiative which makes satellite climate data available to African governments. Better climate data can inform financial decisions. For example, farmers in Rwanda and Ethiopia now have access to credit and insurance based on regional rainfall predictions compiled with ENACTS data.
60 percent of Africans’ income is dependent on the land, so economic stimulus policies must center agricultural production at their core both for food security and financial stability. Technology offers real-time solutions for optimal planting, harvesting, and distribution of agricultural goods. Increased investment in digital tech resources is a critical solution for insulating vulnerable regions of Africa from the economic fallout of the pandemic.