The Great COVID19 Innovation Challenge

Konza Technopolis in collaboration with the Association of Countrywide hubs and  partners has developed an Innovation challenges to harness the collective capability of the technology and innovation sector, in a structured manner in response to three grand challenges that recognize the combined package of infrastructure, technological tools, human capacity and data delivered by a unique combination of multiple stakeholders (public and private sectors will revolutionise service delivery, spreading the reach of new developments to the poorest and most remote communities and improve development outcomes for all. 

This challenge seeks to bring together the innovator communities,  technology and innovation sector players together to demonstrate the power of partnerships and provide new models for government-private sector collaboration to birth the next frontier of techno-developmental-governance interface needed to address the immediate challenges during the current pandemic period as well as with a longer term impact to our Big 4 Agenda, Vision2030 and SDGs.

The challenge therefore is looking to match issues articulated by Ministries, Departments and Agencies, with scalable solutions that can be co-created and adopted for use, matched by policy and financial incentives.

Categories for the COVID19 Innovation Challenge

Health Systems Innovation for COVID19 Challenge:

COVID19 is creating a tremendous strain on Kenya’s health system. As evidence in developed economies such as Italy, Spain the UK, the disease can easily overwhelm existing health service capacity, placing at risk health service providers, but also creating near impossible situations in allocation of critical health commodities and supplies. Governments around the world are grappling with flattening the curve, creating a rush for acquisition of PPEs, ventilators and other essential commodities and supplies, precipitated by the disruption of the global supply chain. Countries that are wealthy are scooping any surplus of these precious commodities globally. This category therefore seeks solutions that can help with:

  • Creating adequate awareness in the population and Health workers on all aspects they need to know on the COVID19 disease, including mitigating against “fake-news”.
  • Train Health workers on COVID19 in the shortest time to enable them to protect themselves, and provide the best care for suspected and confirmed patients.
  • Strengthen health systems capacities for prompt detection, testing, treatments, and contact tracing,
  • Provision of timely information to the population & stakeholders involved in the fight against COVID -19 spread.
  • Medical supplies and equipment including face masks, hand gloves, ventilators, sanitizers, testing kits and especially how to produce these cheaply, quickly using local available materials. Projects to cover different facets including WASH and nutrition.
  • Software applications including apps to trace victims, crowdsource data, alert platforms and emergency response tools at such critical moments where seconds means saving a life. We invite applicants to share whatever viable tech solutions they can imagine, from thermal cameras to help with detection to apps for contact tracing.
  • Rapid prototyping and deployment of commodities and supplies through 4th Industrial Technologies such as 3D Printing.
  • Creating agile governance framework to enable adoption of innovations (data standards, interoperability, protocols and guidelines).
  • Create a communication solution for internal and/or community engagement on COVID19 and other relevant information, that also allows feedback
  • Crowdsource movement data in Red Zones Using Social media meta data to aid in contact tracing.

Food Systems Innovation for COVID19 Challenge:

The Agricultural sector contributes 26% of (GDP), another 27% of GDP indirectly through linkages with other sectors. It further employs 40% of the total population and more than 70% of the rural population in Kenya. The impact of COVID-19 on overall economy would equally affect the agricultural and food security sector, especially in the understanding that a majority of farmers over the age of 57.

In this regard, there will an adverse impact on food security and nutrition as the pandemic coincided with the commencement of the long rains, which marks the planting season for Kenya’s staple foods. The pandemic also comes at the heels of a drought that ravaged the Country in 2019 and a continued locust invasion.
This category therefore seeks to harness data, innovations and solutions to secure our entire food systems, that assures continuous access of affordable and nutritious food across the entire republic of Kenya such as:-

  •  Provide real time data and information on food availability and accessibility, including pricing;
  • Policy innovations, capacity and financial packages that ensure adoption and sustainability of adopted solutions.
  • Support small-scale farmers to access to inputs, capital, information and knowledge to grow food amidst COVID19 restrictions;
  •  Incentivize young people to rapidly deploy across the entire agricultural value chain (from farm to fork).
  •  Scale practices and incentives for larger farmers as a measure to de-risk food insecurity;
  • Improve supply chain practices to reduce food loss, scale new business models for producer-market connections.
  •  Create localized market-places that are technologically driven for food access, processing, distribution and delivery.
  • Logistics especially last mile and how to get food, medicine and essentials to the most vulnerable and needy.

Dignified work challenge for COVID19

The COVID19 pandemic is adversely affecting the economy. In Kenya, there are major disruptions in the tourism and export sector that area major source of foreign exchange. Similar to other Stock Exchange in the world, the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) halted trading on 13 March 2020 after wiping out Ksh120 billion off investors financial portfolios.

With the introduction of 7pm to 5am curfews, work from home order, closure of restaurants (only open for take-outs), social distancing measures in markets, supermarkets and public transport, the informal, that employs a majority continues to suffer. A majority of these workers earn daily wages and have therefore no other means of income. The longer the pandemic, the high the unemployment rate, exposing people to break the current COVID19 containment laws. It also exposes the young population to crime or allure towards violent extremism.

The challenge is therefore to leverage on technologies and innovative solutions that will spur inclusivity and opportunity for dignified work, enabling:

  • Enabling individuals in the informal economy to acquire digital skills for the future of work;
  • Support to SMEs. Online platforms supporting ordering systems, shifts and adaptations in business models, Cash transfer programs, home-based cash for work programs etc
  • Improves access to technology that enables the management of businesses and access to clients and markets.
  • Disruptive EdTech: solutions that can bring classrooms & learning to the homes of the millions of Kenyan children currently stranded at home. How can tech be used to deliver virtual lessons, upload teaching materials and enable effective distance learning for children, students and people with disabilities
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