The Smart Africa Project is a project in collaboration between the Strathmore Policy Innovation and Microsoft. This project is aimed at curating discussions and conversations with policy on technology adoption and innovation in alignment with the goals of Smart Africa. Among the goals, Smart Africa is oriented toward the creation of programs for digital inclusion and as well capacity building for decision-makers and policy makers.
This year, the project focused on the impact of the novel COVID-19 and its impact on healthcare and education sectors which have been arguably the most egregiously affected. The outbreak of the pandemic was accompanied by lockdowns therefore forcing universities, education centres and schools to shut down, thus halting learning indefinitely. As for hospitals and health centres, hospitals were quickly overwhelmed by the influx of patients suffering from this novel disease alongside other patients with other ailments.
Particularly, the project looked back at the impact that the pandemic has had on these sectors and the amount of time it has taken to somewhat recover, adjust to the new normal and the integration of technology proving to be a saving grace. We therefore hypothesized that had these two sectors embraced and adopted technology and innovation in their mode of service delivery some of the egregious effects could have been mitigated swiftly. This assumption was informed by comparison to the financial sector which had been quick to adopt fintech prior to the pandemic and therefore has not been as significantly affected as the two sectors.
To test this hypothesis, the project conducted a Webinar with stakeholders within the three sectors. The topic of the Webinar was Building Back Better: An assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on public health and the education system and looking to fintech for lessons to be learnt. The panelists we had on board were Cynthia Wandia, the founder and CEO of Kwara. Kaburo Kobia, a tech early adopter with 20 years’ worth of experience and currently the Head of Productions at Akili Network. We also had Dr. Kelvin Odongo, the Chief Pharmacist of Checkups Medical Hub, a healthcare provider which has effectively integrated technology in healthcare through the use of telemedicine.
The contributions and recommendations from this webinar will culminate in a policy paper that aims to address the policy shortcomings on the technology and innovation front in Kenya and agitate for reform and generation of better policy.