Digital contact-tracing and pandemics: Institutional and technological preparedness in Africa

Emmanuel Arakpogun, Ziad Elsahn, Karla Simone Prime, Paolo Gerli, Femi Olan

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Several countries in Africa have either deployed or considering using digital contact-tracing (DCT) as part of their Covid-19 containment strategy, amidst calls for the use of technology to improve the efficiency of traditional contact-tracing. We discuss some of the complexities entailed in using DCT in Africa. Adopting a socio-technical perspective, we argue that if DCT design and deployment are not well thought out, it can lead to unintended consequences, particularly in a continent like Africa with disproportionate levels of digital divides and other structural inequalities. We suggest that any adoption of DCT by African countries must take account of their compatibility with local resources, values, social structure, and domestic political factors. Accordingly, we propose a process of translation whereby DCT adaptation is made to accommodate the unique institutional and technological characteristics of African countries by leveraging local practices learned from previous pandemics like Ebola to develop a blended epidemiological approach to (digital) contact-tracing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105105
Pages (from-to)105105
JournalWorld Development
Early online date2 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020


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