Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


Safaricom Unveils Mobile Disease Surveillance System

Article Image
Kenyan telecoms operator Safaricom has partnered with the country's Ministry of Health and Korea Telecom (KT) to launch a disease surveillance and awareness project to alert subscribers about infectious disease outbreaks.

The service, called Safiri Smart, is part of KT's Global Epidemic Prevention Project and is aimed at helping governments to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases such as Ebola and Yellow Fever and enhancing their epidemic preparedness and control.

"This solution will see Safaricom subscribers who opt in to the service receive important information about any epidemics that have broken out at their travel destination, including prevention, measures and symptoms," Stephen Chege, chief corporate affairs officer at Safaricom, said at the launch event in Nairobi.

"We are a technology company and KT is a technology company, [together] we want to innovate around how we can use technology to solve problems. This is what the collaboration is all about, ensuring that even users who do not have smartphones, who can only access USSD [Unstructured Supplementary Service Data], are able to get a service that can change their lives," Chege said.

Safaricom subscribers can access Safiri Smart for free through USSD technology on their mobile phones. Registered customers will get SMS messages with relevant information, in either English or Swahili, to alert them of any disease outbreaks as soon as they land in an affected country.

Myung-gon Chung from Korea Telcom,  Korean  Ambassador to Kenya Choi Yeonghan and Safaricom executive Steve Chege at the Safiri Smart launch in Nairobi, Kenya.
Myung-gon Chung from Korea Telcom, Korean Ambassador to Kenya Choi Yeonghan and Safaricom executive Steve Chege at the Safiri Smart launch in Nairobi, Kenya.

"We have over 1.4 million regular travelers in our country, that travel mostly around East Africa, to countries which may be experiencing an outbreak of one of the diseases that we want to monitor. So all of these customers for free can get a notification about where to travel, what to look out for and how to ensure that they remain safe," Chege explained.

The solution has already been rolled out in Ghana, as well as Laos in Asia, as a mobile application, enabling citizens of those countries to stay informed while visiting epidemic-prone areas and providing reports to health officials when an epidemic erupts.

"Kenya is a major transport hub and the risk of contracting a notifiable infectious disease cross border is high. Mobile phones can be a great tool in promoting public health. We are therefore pleased with this partnership that will increase disease surveillance in Kenya," said Sicily Kariuki, Cabinet Secretary for Kenya's Ministry of Health.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is currently battling an Ebola outbreak with the World Health Organization reporting nine new confirmed cases between November 27 and December 3 in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces. The DRC is facing the world's second-largest Ebola epidemic on record, with over 3,300 cases reported and more than 2,200 deaths since the outbreak was declared in August 2018.

Myung-gon Chung, VP of the sustainability management department at Korea Telecom, said global telcos have a unique opportunity to help prevent contagious diseases from spreading by sharing crucial information with their subscribers at the right time and in the right format.

"We are dedicated to championing these efforts as part of our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals," he added.

Executives from Safaricom and Korea Telecom at the Safiri Smart launch in Nairobi, Kenya.
Executives from Safaricom and Korea Telecom at the Safiri Smart launch in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Staff, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Over 5K African SMBs graduate from Google's Hustle Academy

Around 5,300 small and midsized businesses (SMBs) from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa have graduated from the Google Hustle Academy.


Orange launches super-app 'Max it' for Africa

Telecoms operator Orange has launched its own super-app, called Max it, in five African countries with plans to roll it out across its operations in Africa and the Middle East.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Sponsored video

More videos

Africa Tech Perspectives


Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.


The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: September 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in September 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included more 5G spectrum licenses, vendor and operator strategies, and partnerships – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: August 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in August 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included a commercial 5G launch from Ethio Telecom and the signing of a virtual wheeling agreement between Vodacom South Africa and Eskom – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up
Tag id I-0000192