The current crisis of COVID-19 needs both a public health response and an information-sharing response. Providing accurate information to the public about COVID-19 is a challenge to the world as a whole, and the African continent in particular as governments and various actors work on containing the spread of the virus mainly through social distancing measures. The delivery and exchange of critical information on a mass scale continue to be a huge challenge since most citizens are restricted to staying at home the whole day. Mobile technology might be the best method to provide actionable information to the public on a mass scale at this time, in which Africa has seen massive growth in the use of mobile technology over the past few years; with Subsaharan Africa having 764,213,747 mobile subscribers as of 2018.

The ‘infodemic’ on COVID-19 is a growing concern as digital platforms have become vehicles for the unfettered spread of mal-information, disinformation, misinformation, that often fuel hate speech, stigmatization, racism and xenophobia by accentuating cultural divisions and conflicts. In this context, UNESCO’s Director General reminded, “the role of journalists in informing the public during the ongoing crisis is absolutely pivotal”. Yet, journalists and public interest media are facing increased difficulties in effectively and safely reporting and covering the COVID-19 pandemic, while critical civil society organizations such as factcheckers and specialized NGOs are found unequipped to face such crisis, especially in least developed, transitional and post-conflict countries. The worst-case scenario is that potential disinformation and misinformation spread faster than the virus itself, inciting mistrust on key institutions, scientists and journalists, increasing stigma and discrimination thus leading to serious consequences such as poor appropriation and adoption of preventive measures, low access and pursuit of medical care, deterioration of social stability and fundamental rights. The present proposal falls within the response measures identified by the UN Cameroon Corona Virus – COVID-19 Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) in partnership with #defyhatenow #CoronaVirusFacts