Kenyan Startup Echo Mobile Joins IBM & Airtel in the Fight against Ebola



IBM has announced various partnerships in Africa to combat the Ebola outbreak.  The programmes include donation of IBM Connections technology in Lagos Nigeria to prevent future outbreaks and a citizen engagement platform in Sierra Leone.

Kenya’s startup, Echo Mobile has also been roped in, in conjunction with Airtel to help communities in Sierra Leone.

Echo Mobile will enable the citizens to report Ebola related issues through SMS and Voice. IBM’s new Africa research lab will also use the Sierra Leone’s Open Government Initiative,

“For us to tackle Ebola, it is crucial to maintain an open dialogue between the government and the people of Sierra Leone,” said Khadija Sesay Director of Sierra Leone’s Open Government Initiative.

“IBM has enhanced our work on citizen engagement through the use of innovative technology and opened up an effective communication channel with the general public so that we can learn from their input and create actionable policies in the fight against Ebola.”

“We’re working to make sure that the stream of messages from patients, health workers and the general public can be used to augment the response effort and provide a direct and near real-time view of the situation on the ground,” Jeremy Gordon, Product Director, Echo Mobile added.

IBM also plans to use the data to map out population movement through mobile phone signals in a bid to track the spread of the disease.

“Data can be a powerful resource for managing and mitigating epidemics,” said Jeanne Holm, Evangelist for Data.Gov.

“Governments and other organizations have valuable open data that could help in relief efforts – about roads, airports, schools, medical facilities and populations. Such information can help to drive data-driven decisions during times of uncertainty. IBM is playing a key role in this initiative by helping to identify and gather more open data sources that might inform decisions around Ebola.”