Africa Defense Forum
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Digital Tools Help Togo Tackle COVID-19

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Togo’s government has been recognized for its use of technology in the battle against COVID-19. These digital tools help Togolese officials trace contacts and send money to those in need.

Through the digital cash transfer program Novissi, Togolese officials decreased the financial burden on workers most affected by the pandemic. According to the World Bank, the outbreak threatened 62% of jobs in Togo.

Launched in 2020, the program distributed $4.3 million in its first week of use, Quartz Africa reported.

“We have chosen a fully digital approach, which makes it possible to directly reach beneficiaries through mobile payments while guaranteeing traceability and transparency,” Cina Lawson, Togo’s minister of posts, digital economy and technological innovations, said on Novissi’s website. “Novissi represents a real methodological break with the past and foreshadows the way in which social safety nets and cash transfer programs will henceforth be implemented in our country.”

In July 2020, the government launched TogoSafe, a web portal and mobile app that facilitates contact tracing through digital geolocation, enables compliance with COVID-19 procedures among travelers, and shares test results through email and SMS alerts.

It immediately notifies people whenever they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. The Bluetooth app also lets users view the number of COVID-19 cases in their area while offering access to health advice and a directory of useful pandemic-related hotlines.

The free app was especially helpful when reported COVID-19 infections rose in July and August.

“The numbers are on the rise. This is because the much more contentious and deadly delta variant is here,” Dr. Djibril Mohaman, national coordinator for COVID-19 response, said during a media briefing in mid-August. “We have received the confirmation, so we have to be very careful.”

Togo’s COVID-19 response was recognized in January by the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank that researches international political, strategic and economic issues. The country was recognized for quickly closing its borders, imposing a lockdown and banning large gatherings after the pandemic hit.

Data from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that Togo’s tech-savvy approach to COVID-19 may be working. The country still is in its first phase of the pandemic, while many other nations are struggling through third and fourth phases. The country had reported more than 19,600 COVID-19 cases as of August 23.

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