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Could COVID-19 mark new era of technology use?

A laboratory worker places a test tube containing a patient's sample into a box during coronavirus detection tests in the virology research labs at UZ Leuven university hospital in Leuven, Belgium, on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. China has kick-started a clinical trial to speedily test a drug for the novel coronavirus infection as the nation rushes therapies for those afflicted and scours for vaccines to protect the rest. Photographer: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg via Getty Images
ANALYSIS: CLEMENT SINYANGWE

 IT IS expected that by now, even a five-year-old child understands COVID-19 and what it is doing to the global citizenship. This pandemic has not spared anything and anyone, and has almost brought the global economy to a standstill. All sectors of the economy are affected to the extent that organisations and activities are not performing normally. At this point, all of us are left with nothing except to wait for God’s intervention.
I hate to think of what will happen if no cure is found for this pandemic. How are companies going to pay employees? What happens to school-going children? What about churches and many other things that have been affected by this outbreak?
For now, I will leave the issue of whether the cure will be found or not to the health practitioners, who are experts in that field. Mine is technology.
I feel we have reached a point where ICT experts need to put their heads together and prepare on how we can help the world survive in a case where this pandemic continues. I mean, we need to start preparing to learn how to live with COVID-19 just like we have with HIV and AIDS and other related illnesses. In short, life should continue.
For once, I have seen people washing hands, avoiding crowded places, and taking extra caution when handling things. Of course, we still have doubting ‘Thomases’ who feel this disease is not meant for them. Well, those could be the unfortunate culprits.
Having a child in an examination class this year and being one of the university dons, as well as an ICT practitioner, I have been steadily thinking about how we can keep the economy running through the use of technologies despite experiencing the effects of COVID-19.
Due to limited space, let me discuss two ways we might consider to use technology should this outbreak continue.
Education
When this outbreak surfaced, we saw many countries around the world suspending physical studies in learning institutions. Interesting enough, most institutions from pre-grade to universities quickly adopted the eLearning methods of education service delivery with the hope of the situation normalising in a shortest possible time.
However, we have observed some increase in COVID-19 cases from all around the world. This has compelled some of the organised institutions to move steps further and prepare on how they could continue offering services online even after the end of COVID-19.
I personally support this move. After all, online and eLearning proves to be cheaper than the traditional way of education. All we need is a bit of infrastructure support and improving the ICT literacy levels in the country, then we are set.
Trading
For once, I have also observed some increase in the use of eTransactions amongst citizens. This includes eBanking, eCommerce, electronic bank transfers (EFT), VISA payments, etc. All these are being done just to avoid physical contacts and maintain social distance as advised by the health experts.
This is possible and should be encouraged even after the end of the pandemic. I mean, we have seen countries where people live without frequenting shopping malls, but conduct all their trading from the comfort of their homes. We can adopt the virtual way of conducting activities to reduce on contacts while remaining productive and sustaining the economies just like the way we would in a physical world.
Other things such as church services can also be conducted online via streaming and, of course as a church leader, I have to agree that our attitude towards giving in church is highly affected via electronic means.
This, too, I feel can be worked on as it just requires behavioural change. We need a change of mindset. Just like chief executive officers of corporate institutions need to survive, whether we adopt the virtual way of living or not, the clergy too need to survive. They are the CEOs of the Church and they earn their livelihoods from there.
Fellow countrymen and women, it is my hope that we are ready to adjust and devise ways to live with this disease. All we need to do is just familiarise ourselves with the precautions and heed the experts’ advice on how to avoid contracting it.
This and the adoption of the use of technologies in conducting our day-to-day businesses could just mark a new technology era. Believe me, in no time, though COVID-19 will still be there, it will be an accepted part of our lives. Please remember to be technology-smart.

The author is a Zambia Daily Mail ICT specialist.




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