DRC government’s fight against Covid-19 goes digital

Issa Sikiti da silva

The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has launched a website, www.stopcoronavirus.cd, which it said would provide real-time information on coronavirus, including the number of confirmed infections, deaths, and those who have been discharged from medical centres.

The site will also provide government guidelines and protective measures, among others, the health ministry said, adding that a Covid-19 app and social networks were already active to ensure that everyone was well informed about the impact of the killer virus in the country.

However, the launch of the site is already generating a heated debate in the streets of the capital Kinshasa, the epicenter of the virus where more than 150 people are believed to have been infected.

The virus has already claimed the lives of 18 people, according to official figures.

“It is a good initiative but the one million dollar question is will it be updated on a regular basis? We want live information, minute after minute and hour after hour,” university student Faustin Mabiala told Biztechafrica from the capital Kinshasa.

In a country where internet penetration is one of the lowest on the continent, and connectivity is poor despite the presence of giant mobile operators Vodacom and Orange, it remains to be seen if people living in remote areas would be able to access the site.

Mindful of these challenges, the health ministry has reiterated that everyone would be promptly informed regardless of the internet connection, and it will happen with the support of the country’s four mobile operators, namely Orange, Africell, Airtel and Vodacom.  

Furthermore, there is also the issue of lack of options to access the site in vernacular languages. “The government has failed to recognise the diversity of cultures in this country,” Mado Mbuyi charged.

“We have five official languages and I firmly believe that they should have provided options to people who don’t understand French to access this information in Lingala, Tshiluba, Kikongo or Swahili,” Mbuyi pointed out.

The project has been made possible thanks to the support of USAID, the European Union, the government of Sweden, Internews and FHI360.

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