COVID 19 Innovative Projects Making Significant Milestone Achievements

The Botswana Innovation Fund (BIF) is supporting five projects that were awarded funding in the BIF Third Call for Proposals during the initial stages of the Covid -19 pandemic. The projects have since made significant progress despite the many business challenges amid COVID 19 era. The solutions are being advanced for registration of copyrights and trademarks with Companies and Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA) while they go through products testing and quality assurance. A critical step is in ensuring that they meet all regulatory requirements and they are being urged to pass these stages. Following these, targeted off-takers will be engaged for products testing in an iterative process. BIH is urging all the relevant stakeholders to support these Covid-19 pandemic solutions to gain commercial traction when consulted for input or when they are availed for general consumption. The solutions will be availed on some of the online stores for downloading.  They are anticipated to start being rolled out in stages starting December 2020.

A Digital Social Protection System; a mobile and online based application that provides positive experiences for everyone involved in the social protection field; social services, policy makers, social services beneficiaries applicants. The system currently allows applicants to register their vulnerability through USSD, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Mobile and Web platforms. A Web application for assessment, approval and enrolment of applicants by social workers has also been completed. Analytics dashboards for providing decision makers with programme visibility and actionable insight for evidence-based programme interventions have also been completed. The solution is ready for market validation as a unified social protection registry platform for all existing public social programmes. The project also seeks additional funding to augment the BIF seed funding in order to achieve desired impact in transforming Social Protection Services in Botswana.

Online doctor consultation application; a doctor- patient consulting room on a phone/device or online through a developed application platform. In consideration of the data sensitivity measures and information confidentiality, implementation of this project requires comprehensive consultation with the Ministry of Health & Wellness as well as the Botswana Health Professions Council (BHPC) which is currently being pursued. Additionally, the app requires IP protection which will be done once the app is fully functional. In terms of system building, the platform has achieved significant milestones including a live message & video chat module, push notification module, appointment module, health-tips function and e-prescription function. The app will also include a payment gateway system to enable safe and secure transactions on the mobile app. Private doctors have shown enthusiasm to be registered. However, as most of their customers use medical aids schemes for consultations, they therefore require medical aid schemes to cover online consultations. The project is being facilitated in getting medical aid schemes to approve the use of the solution and to allow doctors to bill accordingly using the technology. Since this is a new technology the current regulatory framework may not be provisioned.   The Ministry of Health and Wellness as well as the Botswana Health Professions Council are both being consulted for guidance.

Public Transport Passenger Alert System; a mobile and web application solution that makes it easy to access public transport, book a seat thereby eliminating long queues at travel times. The project team is slightly behind schedule due to high structure intensity of the system. Currently, they are developing merchant account and payment gateways having completed the SMS and InContact messaging platforms. The team is working on concluding testing and prototyping where the system will be populated to show valuable data which will be used to engage the Ministry of Transport & Communications. The testing and prototyping stage checks the market viability and functionality of the platform on a real live environment. Some of the challenges of the project include providing the platform to the market on a Zero rating. The platform is envisaged to be delivered to the market during December 2020.

A remote queuing system that enables end users to book a spot in a queue virtually through WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and SMS. This system thereby allows customers to manage their time and safeguard their health & safety. On the other hand, it allows service providers to manage their queues at the same providing efficiency measuring data to better service delivery. The team is currently working on the completion of the data analytics dashboard using Artificial Intelligence and mobile app configuration. The advertising, feedback, messaging and other modules of the platform are completed. QFlo is already being piloted at a small clinic in Francistown with negotiations to pilot and acquire the system at several other establishments in Gaborone currently under way. Recently received support to test at the Department of Transport Road Safety (DTRS)

First-Aid Counselling, a digital mental health platform that helps people to access counselling services instantly and conveniently, with 100% anonymity, is undergoing finishing touches to allow for testing prior deployment to the market. This follows achievement of project significant milestones including; inclusion of a USSD platform, content development and building system manuals. The mobile application is poised for pilot testing on both android and apple devices. The next phase of development involves the recruitment of a significant number of professional counselors into the platform. Thus far, 80 professionals have been onboarded. The platform is anticipated to be delivered to the market at the end of December 2020.

These are significant projects in the fight against some of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic in our society. While we are all eager for quick implementation, we ought to ensure that due diligence is followed when building these applications to avoid violating other data governing instruments such as information confidentiality, payment gateway safety etc. Consumers must find convenience in the solutions with minimal negative disruptions.

Considering all the constraints and challenges in project management, and given the importance of these projects, what has been built to date and the milestones are a considerable achievement. Advancement of each project to a fully fleshed solution has a high dependence on the various stakeholders that the innovators are engaging, and that BIH continues to lobby for partnership.

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 For more information or interview opportunities, please contact:

Kemiso Ben

Brand & Communications Manager

Botswana Innovation Hub

Tel: +267 369 6413

Cell: 71321701

Email: kemiso.ben@bih.co.bw

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