Ghana Launches COVID-19 Symptom Tracker App, “Yam Phones” to Use USSD


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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives dramatically and has forced governments globally to come up with solutions to fight it. We are in the digital age and it is not a surprise when governments use digital means to contain the pandemic.

Ghana is one of the African countries that has been testing the most in the country and now they have another weapon under their arsenal. Yesterday, Ghana’s Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu announced that they have launched the Ghcovid19 symptom tracker that is now available on app stores.

The app allows Ghanaians to check your symptoms visa vis the known COVID-19 symptoms as well as answering frequently asked questions and giving advice about the disease.

In comparison, Kenya’s Ministry of Health in conjunction with Facebook launched a WhatsApp bot that shares COVID-19 facts to Kenyans.

The hilarious bit is how the minister decided to use the slang name for feature phones in Ghana. In Ghana, “dumbphones” are called yam phones for some reason and if you cannot download the app with your “yam phone”, you can still use the USSD code provided.

Ghana has the highest mobile penetration in West Africa. By the end of 2019, their mobile adoption rate stood at 55% which is higher than the regional average of 44.8%. Ghana’s population is roughly 31 million and the decision by the government to use tech for people to check out their symptoms and have peace of mind makes sense.

Ghana currently has 2,074 confirmed cases as of writing this article, of which 212 have recovered and unfortunately, 17 have died. Ghana has done over 100,000 tests and it is the second country in Africa to do so after South Africa.