Digital contact-tracing and pandemics: Institutional and technological preparedness in Africa



Arakpogun EO, Elsahn Z, Prime KS, Gerli P & Olan F (2020) Digital contact-tracing and pandemics: Institutional and technological preparedness in Africa. World Development, 136, Art. No.: 105105.

Several countries in Africa have either deployed or considering using digital contact-tracing (DCT) as part of their Covid-19 containment strategy, amidst calls for the use of technology to improve the efficiency of traditional contact-tracing. We discuss some of the complexities entailed in using DCT in Africa. Adopting a socio-technical perspective, we argue that if DCT design and deployment are not well thought out, it can lead to unintended consequences, particularly in a continent like Africa with disproportionate levels of digital divides and other structural inequalities. We suggest that any adoption of DCT by African countries must take account of their compatibility with local resources, values, social structure, and domestic political factors. Accordingly, we propose a process of translation whereby DCT adaptation is made to accommodate the unique institutional and technological characteristics of African countries by leveraging local practices learned from previous pandemics like Ebola to develop a blended epidemiological approach to (digital) contact-tracing.

Africa; Contact-tracing; Covid-19; Institutions, Pandemic; Socio-technical perspective

World Development: Volume 136

FundersNorthumbria University
Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online02/08/2020
Date accepted by journal02/08/2020
PublisherElsevier BV

People (1)


Dr Emmanuel Arakpogun

Dr Emmanuel Arakpogun

SL in Strategy & Strategic Management, Management, Work and Organisation