As governments across the globe continue responding to COVID-19’s devastation, the mobile sector is playing a crucial role in supporting efforts to tackle the pandemic and is enhancing health services responses to it, according to a newly released report from the GSMA.
While the report found that the pandemic had upended people’s lives, health and business sectors, people were using technological innovation during these uncertain times. “In this unprecedented situation, people are quickly adapting to innovative ways of connecting and doing business empowered by connectivity, and digital transformation is no longer just a question but an action for many industries,” the report said.
Mobile operators have played key roles in efforts to respond to the pandemic, especially in ensuring smooth communication during health emergencies and improving coverage of 4G/5G networks.
The report mentioned that during the construction of two new hospitals in China to treat COVID-19 patients, mobile operators including China Telecom and China Mobile, working with Huawei successfully deployed 4G/5G communication networks which resulted in adequate mobile coverage in the hospitals.
The deployment of 4G/5G networks also assisted with remote consultation and telemedicine. Mobile operators were able to construct up to eight 4G/5G network sites in less than 30 hours following the construction of the hospitals.
“The high-quality 4G/5G networks have ensured smooth and uninterrupted communication services in China and provided strong support for the mission-critical response efforts in China during COVID-19 pandemic.”
In African countries like Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa, information and communication technologies have been at the forefront of ensuring that social and physical distancing measures are observed.
South Africa’s health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize recently spoke about the importance of technological innovation in tackling the virus while receiving Huawei Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) diagnostic systems and four thermal scanning systems.
This Al-empowered diagnosis tool assists medical workers to ascertain if someone has COVID – 19. The accuracy for this tool is over 98%, with CT scan review times reduced by over 80%.
Ghana also found ICTs as a powerful weapon in the fight against COVID-19. Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia this month launched an app designed to help in tracing people who have come into contact with COVID-19 positive individuals and link them to health professionals for urgent action to be taken.
The pandemic changed fundamentally the way people communicate, work, shop, learn, and entertain, as life moves from offline to online. In this unprecedented situation, people are quickly adapting to innovative ways of connecting and doing business empowered by connectivity. Thus, the report says, digital transformation is no longer just a question but an action for many industries.
Growth in sub-Saharan Africa has been significantly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to the World Bank.
But Edison Xie, Director of Media Affairs at Huawei Southern Africa Region says, “As combinations of ICTs and health, education and other services gradually become a new norm; there is an opportunity for Africa to return to its growth trajectory by adopting new business models and methodologies that have emerged from this outbreak.”