Compulsory masks, test certificates, and curfews: To curb the spread of COVID-19, the Rwandan government takes a range of measures. Since mid-July, 580,000 people have accessed key information on incidence rates, recommended behaviour in case of infection, and current restrictions and regulations via the “RBC-Mbaza” chatbot.
Accessible via USSD short codes, it requires no internet connection and provides users with information in the local language Kinyarwanda as well as English and French. This allows the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), the national health authority, to provide a source of constantly updated information, reaching more than 15,000 people every day, even in remote regions.
Developed by the Rwandan startup Digital Umuganda, the solution development is being supported by the GIZ projects FAIR Forward and the joint BMZ- EU Smart Development Fund initiative. In its next version, the chatbot will employ artificial intelligence to understand text and voice input and allow users to book vaccination appointments. That way, the chatbot benefits from the open Kinyarwanda – language dataset of the Common Voice platform, which came about as part of the strategic partnership between the BMZ and Mozilla.