COVID-19 Report, May 2020

Reports available in English & French. Produced by Flowminder & Vodacom Congo

Anonymised and aggregated data from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) is a key data source for understanding mobility patterns of populations, providing insights that can improve decision making and scenario planning during the COVID-19 epidemic. This data can be analysed in near real-time to provide an overview of mobility patterns across the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Vodacom Congo, supported by Flowminder, is using mobile operator data (Call Detail Records, also known as CDR) to produce mobility indicators to support the government's response efforts against COVID-19, whilst fully preserving the privacy of Vodacom subscribers.

The focus of this report is on the effects of the measures taken by the Government against COVID-19 on population movements in Kinshasa. There is a particular emphasis on Gombe, where the confinement has been imposed; Ngaliema and Kintambo, believed to have had a high COVID-19 prevalence; and the N’Djili International Airport, where passenger flights were restricted from March 20th.

The period analysed starts on 16th February 2020, i.e. 30 days before the first measures in response to Covid-19 were taken (March 18th), and finishes 18th April 2020. For some results, the period of analysis extends to the 30th of April. All results are expressed as % change compared to the 30 day baseline period, i.e. normal conditions. We provide results aggregated at municipality level.

Vodacom Congo and Flowminder Foundation are ready to support the Presidential Task Force with regular updates of these results and on-demand bespoke analysis (Annex 2 lists possible insights and applications for CDR analysis in the COVID response). For instance, in order to determine best interventions to delay the spread of COVID-19, an analysis of national mobility patterns could be conducted to identify areas which are likely to have new outbreaks sooner than other areas.

Vodacom Congo and Flowminder Foundation also encourage other MNOs to provide information to the Presidential Task Force in order to build a more comprehensive picture.

Market shares vary across the DRC territory, as well as the sociodemographic characteristics of the subscribers of the various MNOs. Flowminder Foundation, with the support of Vodacom Congo, has the required experience and resources to support the production of consistent outputs and information from the other MNOs.

Lastly, method improvement over the next few days will provide finer results, notably on the final destination of trips, the call/SMS volume, and the approximate areas in which subscribers reside. This information will further support the response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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