People across the world have been stepping forward during this coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to demonstrate their love for their fellow humans. It has been a beautiful sight to witness.

We are recognizing that the only way to prevail over perilous times like these is to share and act together.

The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed ravaged the world with over 1 million cases and 50,000 deaths, and as of 1 April 2020, is just beginning to start its onslaught on Africa, the most vulnerable continent. We must all do all we can to help one another during this crisis in accordance with Yuval Noahโ€™s words, as he educates that sustained outbreak in one place threatens humans in every place.

Source: McKinsey & Company

The unique challenge in Africa and India pertains to concerns around the much worse equipped-hospital to population ratio, and certain mismatch of social distancing for their living dynamics, given the existing capacity to save and availability of public stimulus.

On the bright side, #maskforeveryone campaigns could work better in these regions, as Epidemiologist Dr. Christian G. Schrock, MD in this video describes the potential impact of even home-made masks on flattening the pandemic curve, and others discuss a possible herd-immunity built from prior exposure to Malaria. TechCrunch also captures how other platform organizations like ours are either reducing costs or creating space for innovation against COVID-19 in Africa.

At Alliance4ai, we are providing this opportunity for you to support the African innovators working tirelessly to build solutions that can benefit us all. African solutions are mostly designed with affordability, access and efficiency in mind to enable Africans and the rest of the world by extension benefit.

Our community was set up for African Artificial Intelligence innovators to quickly find one another to exchange inspiration, ideas, resources, especially during this crisis and it is paying off; we are seeing the early fruits of this design take shape.

Masks, dashboards, and test-kits you can support

Below we capture innovators you can support, through avenues they describe.

Natalie, based in South Africa, has gotten members of communities she founded to provide cheap accessible medical masks for hospitals. Through RobotsCanThink and Women in AI SA she is using five 3d-printers to design and produce 100 masks a day and distribute to hospitals in Johannesburg like Netcare, Baragwanath and Helen Joseph. Her group has asked for help in three ways:

  • Donors to provide access to more 3d printers,
  • printing material for their current printers which are close to running out,
  • financial donations to support this activity. As a benchmark, a batch of printing material costs 1,500 Rands (~$80) and can print about 60 shields and 45 masks. The 3D machines can cost up to 15,000 Rands ($800).
Medical mask design

Darlington Akogo, based in Ghana, has built a comprehensive real-time tracker of cases across Africa. This is important to provide decision-makers with real-time information to track case spread and plan efficient interventions like drug and medical supply distribution and social distance measures. He has a team of up to 20 people supporting this activity and is seeking:

  • more volunteers from different African countries to sign up to help collect data to support this real-time analysis,
  • more epidemiologists and statisticians to join their current team of epidemiologist, immunologist, virologist, data scientists and AI engineers working on epidemiological modelling and forecasting.
Two of the many charts on Africaโ€™s coronavirus spread.

Dr Amo-Boateng, a professor in Ghana, is working on six key solutions that can be vital during this pandemic. The six of them are captured in the picture below. Notable ones are:

Test Kit โ€“ A test for COVID-19 that can provide results in less than 1 minute with a kit consisting of a mobile phone and sensor unit connected by cable or Bluetooth.

Drug from Physics โ€“ A potential cure that can work to disrupt the virus activities in the body with resonant frequencies from light & sound. The base science is described in this paper.

AI Optimization โ€“ An algorithm that can speed up regular AI up to 1000 times. The science is described in his paper

He is happy to collaborate with other great minds in AI to complete development of these solutions, technical marketers to help drive adoption of completed technical tools and connected individuals in Ghana who can help his solutions undergo adequate trials and approval.

Top solutions from Dr Amo-Boatengโ€™s lab.

There are other key innovators, AI communities and startups on the Alliance4ai platform working on COVID-19, most notably Data science Nigeria, Icog Labs Ethiopia and Zindi South Africa which is hosting weekly hackathons to crowdsource solutions from thousands of African data scientists.

We will continue to create avenues for these communities to come together to share and collaborate and join other larger efforts like the brewing Africa Digital Platform, as we can only defeat this virus together.

As a registered American non-profit and 501c3, we are positioned to coordinate support for these groups. If you are interested in supporting any of the efforts, reach out to admin@alliance4ai.org or donate directly to this fund we set up to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

Stay healthy wherever you are.

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