Digital innovation is at the core of Ghana’s economic boost. Leading up to the 12th ICT4D Conference in Accra, we were curious to know about relevant digital and data solutions in Ghana. So we posed three questions to the digital innovators: What problem are you solving? What is innovative/different in your approach? What are your key lessons learned?
The responses were captivating. Join us in celebrating digital innovations in the gateway to Africa by reading about the exciting work in health, WASH, green economy, food security, and connectivity shared by CRS, Team4Tech, Amplio, mPharma, Savana Signatures, GiZ, Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, and Intelligent Network Services.
1. Team4Tech & Africa ICT Right
By Nyagaki Gichia, Africa Hub Director at Team4Tech
Team4Tech and Africa ICT Right are teaming up to offer digital capacity building and tech-supported education in Ghana.
What problem are you solving? By 2030, 1 billion youth will lack global workforce skills due to a growing digital divide. Education is key. Team4Tech speeds up education-focused NGOs, aiding learners globally, bridging the digital equity gap, and enhancing employability. In Accra, Africa ICT Right partners, tackling tech inequality, and empowers under-served communities with resources, training, and support for developmental needs.
What is innovative? Team4Tech partners with NGOs, to boost tech-supported education for employability. We offer regional hubs, funding, training, coaching, and a global online Community of Practice. Our accelerator empowers NGOs to impact regional education ecosystems through collaboration. With Team4Tech’s support, Africa ICT Right built a STEM lab in Accra, training 320 students in digital skills, coding, robotics.
What are your lessons learned? Africa ICT Right faced challenges in implementing STEM curricula—limited equipment and trained instructors. Team4Tech’s grant support, Community of Practice and training addressed this. Impact and innovation can be accelerated through collaboration. Through shared knowledge and resources, we foster a community where organizations overcome challenges and thrive in enhancing education globally.
2. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) – Ghana
By Victor Plance, Senior Project Officer at CRS Ghana
In northern Ghana, CRS partners with GES for a WASH-friendly school environment. The CRS DigiWASH initiative revolutionizes education, using Pico Projectors for interactive multimedia presentations. Child-friendly BCC Videos enhance comprehension, reinforcing hygiene practices. Educators, guided by a structured BCC Video Guide, seamlessly integrate resources. Currently benefiting 172 schools, the initiative prioritizes sustainability through comprehensive training, fostering continuous improvement. The CRS DigiWASH initiative in Ghana epitomizes the transformative potential of digital innovation in addressing critical development challenges. By leveraging technology in education, it fosters a hygienic environment and empowers communities, contributing to broader ICT4D efforts.
What problem are you solving? CRS DigiWASH initiative addresses Ghanaian schools’ inadequate WASH education challenge. Conventional methods struggled to engage students in hygiene practices. This innovative approach employs Pico Projectors and BCC Videos, creating interactive, multimedia-driven lessons. These resonate with students, notably improving essential hygiene practices’ adoption in 172 schools across Northern Ghana.
What is innovative? The initiative is revolutionizing WinS education through the introduction of Pico Projectors and BCC Videos, the first of its kind, aimed at transforming classrooms into interactive digital hubs for WASH learning. The customized multimedia developed suits diverse learning styles, enhancing information retention. The structured BCC Video Guide ensures consistent impactful and sustainable WASH education.
What are your lessons learned? Comprehensive capacity-building training enhances educator skills, ensuring program success; overcoming challenges, like technical difficulties, informs valuable improvements and adaptability, while a real-time user feedback mechanism refines and adapts the initiative effectively; ultimately, strategic resource distribution significantly boosts program impact and scalability.
By Thelma Anike Naah Amao, Communications Officer at Amplio Ghana
Amplio Talking Books built trust through consistent, quality messaging. Talking Books ensured uniform messages for all SILC groups, overcoming community skepticism towards Private Service Providers.
To date, Amplio has participated in 55 projects in 14 countries, bridging the knowledge gap for over 2 million people.
What problem are you solving? Amplio Talking Books (ATBs) bridge knowledge gaps in rural communities, overcoming illiteracy, language barriers & gender inequality. In partnership with UN agencies, NGOs & governments, Amplio builds capacity on agriculture, health, women & children’s rights & more. For CRS’ ICOWASH 2.0 project, ATBs aided 100 Savings & Internal Lending Communities on governance, finance, health & WASH knowledge.
What is innovative? The ATB is a rugged, audio device delivering targeted content in any language. Using icons & prompts, it guides group listening & learning on-demand, elevating community voices through user feedback recorded on-device. Staff can update content & collect data in the field. As an offline device, the ATB provides a safe, gender-responsive solution for conservative communities, unlike mobile devices.
What are your lessons learned? ATBs increased attendance during sensitization meetings & participants’ knowledge about WASH through local languages. By involving men, TBs furthered gender equality through enhanced cooperation in household responsibilities and support for women’s menstrual health. It empowered communities via feedback channels for co-creating content, enabling them to address challenges & actively shape outcomes.
By Ebenezer Osei, Senior Associate at mPharma
mPharma’s primary care services address critical challenges in healthcare accessibility, especially in under-served communities in Ghana.
What problem are you solving? By adopting a pharmacy-first approach, we tackle issues related to limited access to primary care facilities, long waiting times, and insufficient healthcare infrastructure.
What is innovative? mPharma’s digital approach, spearheaded by Mutti Doctor, stands out as a transformative model in the realm of primary care. Mutti Doctor serves as the digital backbone, connecting local pharmacies to our centralized platform. This innovation not only optimizes the use of existing community resources but also empowers Mutti Doctor-enabled pharmacies to provide a spectrum of primary care services.
What are your lessons learned? We’ve recognized the importance of community engagement and education to foster trust in this evolving healthcare model. These lessons guide us in continually refining and expanding our pharmacy-first approach, reinforcing our commitment to accessible and patient-centric primary care services. We’ve also learnt that trust and kindness are key to delivering health services
5. Savana Signatures
By Stephen Agbenyo, Executive Director at Savana Signatures
What problem are you solving? Antenatal care (ANC) and postnatal care (PNC) provide crucial services for pregnant and postpartum women and their children. The uptake of ANC and PNC also act as important gateways to the uptake of other health services, including facility delivery, malaria prevention, and immunization. Northern Ghana continues to lag in the uptake of full course ANC and PNC, approximately 54% as compared to 84% in Accra.
What is innovative? The Kpododo mobile messaging platform is an innovative platform that capitalizes on the widespread use of mobile phones in Ghana to reach pregnant women in rural communities with life-saving maternal and child health information (M&CH) to promote safe delivery and survival of newborns. It delivers mobile voice messages in local languages and SMS in English for free to beneficiaries at a distance.
What are your lessons learned? The use of innovation makes the Kpododo platform different from other practices. The mobile messaging tackles barriers of distance, time and costs in accessing maternal health information and services. The mHealth strategy bridges existing Maternal and Child Health (MCH) information gaps between health professionals and new mothers and empowers women to gain more control over their MNCH issues.
6. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
By Frederick Augustt, Technical Advisor at GIZ
The Pan-African E-Commerce Initiative of GIZ and Tiny David developed an innovative packaging solution to reduce the reliance on single-use packaging in e-commerce and raising awareness among vendors and consumers alike about the environmental impact of single-use packaging. The initiative involves the use of delivery bags made from garment waste to replace plastic bags. In addition, an innovative approach of engendering trust, safety and accountability was introduced using QR code-activated seals that are used to lock the bags and are scanned to confirm delivery by the recipient, thereby, minimizing failed deliveries, refunds, and returns. A pilot is currently underway using a group of 75 vendors within the municipality of Accra. The deliveries are being made exclusively with e-bikes.
What problem are you solving? Africa’s e-commerce boom hides a green snag: Plastic waste.
While e-commerce thrives, mountains of single-use packaging are piling up. Each item shipped equals more plastic, often non-recyclable, choking landfills and polluting ecosystems. We need sustainable solutions to keep Africa’s e-commerce green!
What is innovative? The initiative involves the use of delivery bags made from garment waste to replace plastic bags. In addition, an innovative approach of engendering trust, safety and accountability was introduced using QR code-activated seals that are used to lock the bags and are scanned to confirm delivery by the recipient, thereby, minimizing failed deliveries, refunds, and returns.
What are your lessons learned? We are seeing three areas of impact:
Innovative Packaging: Transforming garment waste into delivery bags reduces single-use plastics, promoting sustainability.
QR Code Accountability: Implementing QR code-activated seals enhances trust and minimizes delivery issues, fostering reliability.
E-Bike Efficiency: Exclusively using e-bikes for deliveries proves an eco-friendly and efficient approach for urban areas.
7. Tamale Metropolitan Assembly (TaMA)
By Martin Ahorlu Director, Waste Management at TaMa
The ICESSPOOL Fecal Sludge Management and bulk water monitoring platform was established from a collaboration between Catholic Relief Services, Ghana, Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, UNICEF, and a private ICT firm.
What problem are you solving? TaMA, CRS, Ghana and UNICEF collaborated to develop the ICESSPOOL Fecal Sludge Management and Water Supply Monitoring platform. The platform addresses the difficulty in accessing vacuum trucks and latrine pit emptying services (manual and motorized). It also mitigates the disposal of faecal sludge in unauthorized places and monitoring the delivery of unwholesome water to households.
What is innovative? ICESSPOOL app revolutionizes regulation and monitoring of septage carriers and water tanker operators and improves access to WASH services. The geo-location systems provide real-time location of the septage carriers ensuring faecal sludge is disposed of at authorized places. Additionally, the system has a built-in feature for monitoring the abstraction of water from authorized points.
What are your lessons learned? Service authorities may need to use their regulatory mandate to ensure service providers operate on the ICESSPOOL platform. Extensive awareness creation is required to get residents to adopt and use the platform. Strategic engagement of the service providers facilitated the roll on of the service providers onto the platform. For service providers, profitability was the biggest motivation.
8. Intelligent Network Services
By Gbolahan Oshonubi, CEO at Intelligent Network Services Limited
This innovation is developed in Nigeria. With the minimum viable product being tested presently in offline mode. It is adaptable to African terrain as it can be deployed in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This is motivated as an advancement of AgriVAS that is in most cases captive to the telecom operators thereby limiting the use to their subscribers only.
In this instance, farmers can call the contact centre irrespective of their network provider. It is hoped to be deployed on a 4-6 digit short telephone code. The contact centre is integrated with an opensource web conferencing application to cater for commercial farmers’ needs for training, while we are exploring WhatsApp as a complementary/substitute channel to SMS.
What problem are you solving? The need to establish an agricultural contact center for smallholders and commercial farmers is increasing every day both in terms of number and geographical spread. By the day existing farmers and new entrants to the farming profession aggressively seek information on pests and diseases, farming efficiency and management systems, price information and market intelligence, weather information, and forecasts.
What is innovative? The AI enabled contact centre, is built on large capability call centre solution, agriculture-focused modular multichannel customer relationship management, solution, knowledge management app and a private Generative Pre-trained Transformer, allowing the agents to provide advisory services with minimal agric backend expert, thereby increasing the acceptability of the service by the callers.
What are your lessons learned? With open-source solutions, we are able to develop a customizable contact centre solution to meet the needs of the caller. The AI capability of contact centre reduces the dependent on high skilled agric experts as the repository is constantly updated thereby increasing learning reinforcement of the AI app and reducing the number of required back-end office staff still providing reliable service
9. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
By Mary Afram, Technical Advisor at GIZ
Cashew Disease Identification (CADI AI) project, by technology partner, KaraAgro with support from GIZ’s FAIR Forward and MOVE projects, was implemented to help early detection of diseases in cashew. Early intervention increases yields by up to 30%, securing livelihoods, boosting food security, and fueling further economic growth.
What problem are you solving? Although cashew boosts Ghana’s foreign exchange profits and provides a source of income for many Ghanaians, the industry is plagued with many challenges. Undetected diseases like anthracnose and die-back silently steal yields, causing estimated losses of 40%. With over 2 million Ghanaians relying on cashew, this translates to crushing income decline, food insecurity, and economic instability.
What is innovative? CADI AI delivers a machine learning model and desktop app, employing AI to identify pest infections, diseases, and nutrient stresses in cashew trees. Analyzing drone imagery from Ghana’s Bono Region, it acts as a farmer’s early warning system, facilitating prompt issue identification and targeted treatment. The app provides geolocated data on unhealthy trees for swift intervention.
What are your lessons learned? Crop cycles’ unpredictability due to climate change impacts project timelines. CADI AI’s 2-month delay stresses the need for climate-aware planning. Flying drones too close affects image quality; optimal distance ensures effective disease classification. Strategic drone deployment is crucial for precise data analysis.
We hope you are inspired to provide a digital solution to the challenges your local community faces. We invite you to join the 12th in-person ICT4D Conference in Ghana on March 19 & 20, 2024 as we lead the cross-sector discussion on digital development. Click here for more information.