Designing an ecosystem model for digital rehabilitation in Africa

Designing an ecosystem model for digital rehabilitation in Africa

Information and Data Architecture

Our customer, a university of applied sciences, embarked on a research project to gain a better understanding of the interests, needs, concerns, and wishes of stakeholders in the Digital Rehabilitation Ecosystem (DRE). The study aimed to identify technical limitations, motivations for stakeholder engagement, and the potential for using digital communication platforms in the DRE.

The research method included interviews, surveys, and desk research involving 51 online survey respondents and five telephonic interviews.


The research applied a digital ecosystem framework, addressing the key aspects of building a successful ecosystem, including Market Expectations, Network Effects, Platform, Communities, Ecosystem Support Functions, and Ecosystem Governance. It also included a cultural motivation framework to evaluate the differences in DRE perceptions across Finland and Rwanda.


The study discovered the eagerness of health specialists to learn and participate in the DRE, mutual support, and willingness to help as part of local culture, and the country's readiness to support innovation and develop infrastructure. However, challenges such as general poverty, lack of internet access, cultural issues, and lack of awareness and knowledge of how ecosystems work were also identified.

Researcher views highlighted appreciation for a centralized platform to access industry news and perspectives. However, challenges including resource limitations, unclear roles and responsibilities, and a lack of a value proposition for businesses were observed.


Based on the SWOT analysis, three solution opportunities were proposed:

1. Foster a strong international network encouraging discussion, comments, posts, and sharing.

2. Create a user-friendly platform that aggregates all industry news and progress in one place.

3. Build supportive functions, including involving students in activating the international network and using universities as partners for continuous promotion of the DRE.

Lessons learned

The research provided valuable insights into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the DRE from the perspectives of both DR specialists and researchers. Several obstacles were identified that need to be overcome to fully realize the potential of the DRE.

The importance of understanding cultural differences and how they affect perceptions and acceptance of digital rehabilitation was also highlighted. The research underscored the necessity of not only focusing on the technical aspects but also considering intrinsic motivators, power, and trust issues.

Finally, the need for clear governance and coordination in establishing and maintaining the ecosystem was identified. The future success of the DRE hinges on the ability to motivate all stakeholders, provide a clear value proposition, and ensure robust governance of the ecosystem.