ADM systems and the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa

Rolling updates on automated decision-making systems deployed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. News items are categorized by area and country, and displayed in reverse chronological order.


East Africa sees telehealth boom amid Covid-19 pandemic (The National, Aug 2021)

"The pandemic has accelerated the pace of technological advances in health care, from video consultations to artificial intelligence-powered triage, and medically underserved East Africa is catching on fast"

Africa’s Covid-19 passport lays the groundwork for controlling future disease outbreaks (Quartz Africa, Jul 2021)

"Launched in October 2020 by the African Union Secretariat and the Africa CDC, the passport program, dubbed Trusted Travel, supports member states in verification of Covid-19 test certificates and harmonization of entry and exit screening. It provides travel requirement information at exit and entry ports plus a list of government-approved laboratories for Covid-19 testing. In addition, it enables travelers to upload their Covid-19 test results online for verification by health and travel officials"

Unseen Eyes, Unheard Stories. Surveillance, data protection, and freedom of expression in Kenya and Uganda during COVID-19 (Article 19 Eastern Africa, Kenya ICT Action Network and Pollicy, Apr 2021)

"The surveillance measures and practices adopted to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, including coronavirus applications (apps), did not comply with the three-part test under international law and national laws guaranteeing the rights to privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, and access to information"

Africa’s Telecom and Technology Industry Leads the Charge against COVID-19 by Backing AU Covid-Tech & Vaccine Passport System (Africa CDC, Mar 2021)

"A key element of the campaign is the “Trusted Travel Platform”, which automates cross-border verification of health certificates (whether for testing or vaccines). This platform, which went live on 2 October 2020, is an excellent example of the dual goal of preserving lives and livelihoods. By preventing the use of fake certificates, it helps manage the spread of the disease. By facilitating cross-boarder travel, it helps restore travel, tourism and trade – major pillars of our African economies. The Trusted Travel Platform is also an excellent example of the potential of strategic collaborations between the Africa CDC and private sector technology partners"

African countries embracing biometrics, digital IDs (UN Africa Renewal, Feb 2021)

"African businesses and governments alike have made major advancements in recent years in implementing biometric systems. With almost 50 African nations having issued e-passports, there has been a clear drive to spread the use of biometric-based identification across Africa in recent years"

Activists sound alarm over African biometric ID projects (Al Jazeera, Dec 2020)

"Nearly every African country with a stable government now has active biometric ID programmes in place or under way, according to ID4Africa, with South Africa and Nigeria’s biometric IDs among the most developed. (...) But data protection experts and watchdogs are raising concerns that gaps in Africa’s legal and regulatory ecosystem leave citizens, including vulnerable LGBTQ communities, exposed to privacy abuses. Activists also argue that Africa’s ID programmes could also be harnessed to facilitate the deportation of migrants and refugees from Europe"

Here's how Africans are using tech to combat the coronavirus pandemic (World Economic Forum, Apr 2020)

"From a WhatsApp chatbot to a self-diagnosis tool, Africans are devising mobile tech solutions to contain the spread of the coronavirus amid fears it could have disastrous effects for the continent's most vulnerable"



Ethiopian Airlines joins Africa CDC in launching COVID-19 test, vaccine passport (Xinhua, Mar 2021)

Ethiopia’s national flag carrier Ethiopian Airlines on Wednesday announced partnership with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) for the implementation of the African Union (AU) Trusted Travel Pass to make continental travel easier and safer amidst the COVID -19 pandemic"



Ghana to become first country to use contactless biometrics in national vaccination program (Biometric Update, Jul 2021)

"For the second dose for COVID-19 vaccines, the individual’s biometrics will be verified to recall their record and check appropriateness for the second and if administered, update the records. Simprints is already working with Ghana Health Services as part of a broader scheme to integrate biometrics into universal health coverage in the country. Another area being developed is childhood immunizations along with maternal health, TB and HIV care"

Ghana to trial biometric solution from Simprints for vaccine delivery program (Biometric Update, May 2021)

“The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has announced plans to use Simprints’ award-winning vaccine management biometric solution to identity citizens within the framework of a vaccine delivery programme"



Kenyan government’s use of surveillance technologies to tackle COVID-19 raises human rights concerns (Global Voices, Oct 2021)

"The government is using biometric technologies and CCTVs in public spaces for facial recognition; smartphones for call data, tapping, and geotagging; and contact tracing apps to help identify those who have come into contact with infected people"


INHP launches “Afya”, a mobile application for participatory digital surveillance of respiratory infections and Covid-19 (, Aug 2021)

"We will be able to collect information from the public to detect the real burden of the disease. The aim is to monitor cases of self-reported acute respiratory infections that can potentially include Covid-19 in Ivorian populations and compare them to cases in hospital surveillance"



Using artificial intelligence techniques for detecting Covid-19 epidemic fake news in Moroccan tweets (Results in Physics, Jun 2021)

"The present case study focuses on fake news being tweeted during the coronavirus pandemic for the purpose to mislead the targeted population. In this context, this paper exhibits a new approach to detect fake news on Twitter during the Covid-19 period. The proposed method consists of a classification approach that uses new tweets’ features and it is based on natural language processing, machine learning, and deep learning"

Nigeria: Covid "health pass" may soon be imposed in two states (Africa News, Sep 2021)

"Two southern Nigerian states want to make vaccination mandatory for access to public places and gatherings to speed up the Covid-19 vaccination campaign"
Nigerian digital healthcare startup helps triage COVID-19 cases (UN Africa Renewal, Jun 2020)

"The Wellvis COVID-19 Triage Tool was designed using the official case definition by the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control (NCDC). It uses responses to clinical and epidemiological questions to categorize users into low, medium and high risk. Each risk category is then educated on the appropriate next steps, as described by the NCDC"



South Africa announces COVID 'vaccine passport' plans (Africa News, Sep 2021)

"In two weeks, we will "provide more information on a system of 'vaccine passports' that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events," [President Cyril Ramaphosa] said without providing further details"

Here’s how SA’s vaccine algorithm works – and location is more important than age (Business Insider South Africa, May 2021)

"South Africa's vaccine algorithm, the part of the sprawling Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) that determines who gets a vaccine shot when, does not prioritise recipients by age"

How South Africa is tracking adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines (The Conversation, May 2021)

"Once the provincial or district teams have been given the medical records of the person who experienced the adverse event, they submit these to the national immunisation safety expert committee. (...) The committee uses an algorithm created by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to examine what is reported about the event"

New AI-powered algorithm to predict third wave of COVID-19 in South Africa (York University, Apr 2021)

"This novel AI-powered early detection system includes features such as mobility and stringency indices, and epidemiological parameters. The AI-based algorithm works in parallel with and supports the analysis of an already existing algorithm that is based on more classical analytics. These algorithms work independently, and the data and analyses are updated daily and published on the South Africa 3rd Wave Risk Index with AI website. The existence of two independent algorithms adds robustness to the predictive capacity to better contain and control the pandemic"

Philips Foundation deploys AI software in South Africa to detect and monitor COVID-19 using chest X-rays (Philips Foundation, Mar 2021)

"Philips Foundation has successfully implemented artificial intelligence (AI) software, developed by Delft Imaging, in 11 South African hospitals to help triage and monitor COVID-19 patients via X-ray imaging. Delft Imaging’s AI-based CAD4COVID software, which complements existing COVID-19 diagnostic technologies, estimates the severity and progression of COVID-19 disease based on routinely available chest X-rays"

South African app aims to slow spread of COVID-19 in developing nations (DW, May 2020)

"Users can sign up for a free web application on which they are asked to enter their COVID-19 status. They are then assigned a QR code, either on their smartphones or — for the majority of South Africans who do not own a smartphone — printed on paper. (…) Users keep control of their data. Their identities are checked via block chain, not stored on a central server. Users must agree to have the information released to health authorities if they test positive"

Government, UCT partner for tracing app (SABC News, Apr 2020)

"The CoviID app will collect users’ personal locations and their infection statuses, and store the data on individual’s phones using a technology called self-sovereign identity – not on a centralised government or private-sector database. This provides the user with full authority and control over who gets access to the data, for what purposes and for how long. The app uses Bluetooth and geolocation to track and trace the movements of individuals, over the two week period prior to them testing positive for the virus"



Prioritizing the poorest and most vulnerable in West Africa: Togo’s Novissi platform for social protection uses machine learning, geospatial analytics, and mobile phone metadata for the pandemic response (The World Bank, Apr 2021)

"The Novissi platform delivers contactless, emergency cash transfers based on machine learning techniques and mobile money. In order to expand Novissi platform coverage, the poorest villages and neighborhoods are selected through high-resolution satellite imagery and nationally representative household consumption data. Within those villages and neighborhoods, the poorest individuals are then prioritized through machine learning algorithms using mobile phone metadata and phone surveys. Machine-learning algorithms trained on mobile call detail records predicted consumption patterns for 5.7 million individuals (70 percent of population). Between November 2020 and March 2021, 57,000 new beneficiaries were prioritized for contactless, social protection payments through the use of predictive algorithms"

MTN Uganda and NITA-Uganda launch new app for tracking COVID 19 patients under Home based care (MTN, Mar 2021)

"The new app named E-pass (Electronic pass) is intended to help the Ministry of Health truck and geo-fence the movement of COVID 19 patients under home based care thus reducing the number of non-critical patients that get admitted in hospitals"

Health ministry activates electronic cargo and driver tracking system in Elegu (The Independent, Nov 2020)

"Launched in September, the tracking system is a mobile phone application that enables the issuance of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) digital certificates that are mutually recognized by the East Africa Community partner states. The tracker eliminates multiple testing and contributes to alleviating on-going congestion at the East Africa border crossing points. It also provides a surveillance system to monitor long-distance drivers and enables contact tracing"

Electronic COVID-19 Point of Entry Screening and Travel Pass DHIS2 implementation at Ugandan Borders (dhis2, Apr 2020)

"If cleared to travel, the traveller carries their travel pass with them and is required to present it at the different checkpoints within the country. At these checkpoints, we capture the date, time, and GPS location, so if COVID-19 test results for that traveller are returned as positive, Ugandan health authorities can identify the traveller’s last checkpoint and intended destination, and either locate the traveller or alert the next checkpoint to stop him/her"


Latest update: Oct 14, 2021


Artificial Intelligence, Biometrics, Contact tracing apps, COVID algorithms, Vaccine passports




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