ADDIS ABEBA – The United Nations has agreed to support Ethiopia’s tech sector to come up with innovative and home-grown solutions to fight coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
With the rate of new COVID-19 cases growing by the day, healthcare stakeholders are continuing to search for tools to help stem the tide.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the UN Development Program and Ethiopia’s Ministry of Innovation and Technology today aims to enable Ethiopia’s tech community’s role in finding innovative tools and support the country’s response to the pandemic.
As per the agreement, a challenge grant will be jointly launched to identify local innovators capable to co-design, experiment and implement technology-driven solutions to monitor the outbreak, and advance preventive measures.
These include awareness-raising, disease surveillance and citizen action, among others.
In a statement sent to the Monitor, the UNDP reveals its plan to make an initial contribution of half a million US dollars and, depending on the success of the challenge grant, will potentially double the contribution.
Sisay Tola, State Minister of Ministry of Innovation and Technology, said, the support will coordinate various efforts “in research, technology and innovation to prevent COVID-19 and reduce its impact in the country”.
As part of the agreement and working closely with UNDP Ethiopia’s Accelerator Lab team, MiNT will launch the Grand Challenge to select the best innovators from amongst the local tech community.
The timetable will be made public soon.
UNDP’s Resident Representative Turhan Saleh noted the partnership could give “a great opportunity for the tech and innovator community in Ethiopia”.
The innovators will have a chance “to show what smart ideas and applications, delivered quickly, can make a big difference in the fight against COVID-19”, he said.
“Others e.g. in South Korea have done it. So can we,” added Saleh.
Ethiopia currently has 74 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and recorded three deaths.