The African Union has lauded Kenya’s move to to adopt the Africa CDC Trusted Travel platform for Managing travels through the Covid -19 Pandemic.
This follows the announcement by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe of the adoption of the platform, making Kenya the first country to take it up.
“The ministry has collaborated with the African Union and Africa CDC, with technical support from PanaBios to implement an online system to authenticate and verify laboratory test certificates for travelers,” Kagwe noted.
The move is set to ease movement of people by simplifying verification of public health documentation of travelers during entry and exit across borders.
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The portal’s key features include information about the latest travel restrictions, and entry requirements, a database of authorized laboratories and vaccination compliance information, as well as Africa CDC mutual recognition protocol for Covid-19 testing and test results and vaccination certificates.
This simply means that tests conducted in any member states of the AU and even countries outside Africa, can be verifiable in all other member states provided the labs have been registered in the digital registry .
Kenya has already started reaping the benefits of the platform as travelers commend the country for its effectiveness in digital coordination at border points.
Antonia Filmer, Business Traveler from the United Kingdom was impressed to see the digital coordination in action.
In her latest article on The Sunday Guardian, Filmer says the digitization made things easy and took much lesser time at the airport
“We were armed with a UK PCR-negative Covid-19 test and a completed Kenya Ministry of Health “Travelers Health Surveillance Form”, which allocates the bearer a personal QR code that facilitates and speeds up entry. On arrival in Nairobi just before entry into immigration, our QR codes were scanned and linked to the temperature screening camera. The stream of passengers arrives and their temperature is displayed on their foreheads on the screen, it would be easy to see if you were next to someone with a fever. Thus there was nothing to do at the many immigration counters than to show our visas, disembarkation to leaving in a taxi with our luggage took about 15 minutes,” she said.
In October 2020, the African Union officially launched the Trusted Travel platform as part of the overall Trusted Travel Initiative during a joint ministerial meeting of the ministers of health, transport, and information and communication of African Union Member States.
Developed by PanaBios Consortium and Econet Group as a public-private partnership with Africa CDC, Trusted Travel is a top-class digital solution to support Member States in verifying COVID-19 test certificates for travelers and to help harmonize entry and exit screening across the continent.
The Africa CDC Trusted Travel initiative enables countries to keep their borders open for economic activities while preventing or minimizing the spread of COVID-19.
“We are in a critical phase of the pandemic. As economies reopen and travels resume, we must pay attention to the prevention of transmission, prevention of deaths and prevention of harm by carefully and cautiously opening our borders, and the Trusted Travel portal is the tool that Member States need to help them open safely,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
African Union through Africa CDC, in collaboration with PanaBios and Econet, will continue to provide technical support to the Government of Kenya in operationalizing the platform and calls on other Member States to hook up to the platform for screening and verification of test results to ensure safe public health corridor across the continent.
Kenya is among the first countries that had been targeted in the first phase for the adoption of the portal.
Other countries targeted in the first phase include Ghana, Cape Verde, Togo, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Rwanda, Morocco, Egypt , Liberia, Uganda and Namibia.
Some of the R&D partners helping in the initiative, with capabilities such as machine learning and blockchain for instance Koldchain, have a presence in Kenya.
Due to the support of continental business associations such as AfroChampions, the services come at no cost to travelers.