Africa’s emerging smartphone market | Piloting the Health[e]Learning application in Ethiopia

When walking the streets in Addis Ababa you see them everywhere; people with smartphones. Having experienced the problems with the use of our offline learning tool from “the-very-first-days-of-Health[e]Foundation”, the USB flash drive, because of the epidemic of computer viruses in Ethiopia, we asked ourselves whether offline learning of Health[e]Foundation courses via an application on a smartphone can be the new standard? This question was the starting point for our pilot in Ethiopia where we introduced the Health[e]Learning smartphone application.

In March 2019 we travelled lightly to Ethiopia, solely with a smartphone in our pocket and the confidence that we could offer the Ethiopian midwifes a new offline tool solving both challenges of sometimes unreliable mobile internet in the country as well as being a victim of computer viruses. The weeks before our departure had been quite hectic, from testing and adapting the application to testing and adapting again, trying to simulate the Ethiopian environment. But, we managed to create our minimum viable product for the pilot phase, so off we went!

In Ethiopia, we conducted 2 kick-off workshops and met with motivated midwifes who were ready to start the Female&Family[e]Education course in Ambo and Nekemte as an App. The application requires one download using mobile data and afterwards one can work anywhere offline. Especially midwifes in remote areas can benefit from the offline feature to keep on educating themselves.

Of the more than hundred midwifes that attended both kick-off workshops of the Female&Family[e]Education course in Ambo and Nekemte, thirty midwifes started the pilot to test the smartphone application. In the coming three months we will learn from their experiences with the aim of making the application more widely available in the future.