NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 6- The African Union Commission and the Africa Centre for Disease Control Prevention (Africa CDC) have launched a Covid-19 “Trusted Travel” Portal to simplify verification of public health documentation of travelers during entry and exit across borders.
The portal’s key features include information about the latest travel restrictions, and entry requirements, a database of authorised 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 state of the AU, and even countries outside Africa, can be verifiable in all other member states provided the labs in which the tests took place have been registered in the digital registry.
The information on restrictions and laboratories will be supplied by Africa Member States and validated by Africa CDC. Key Technology partners include PanaBios and Econet wireless.
“Our technology partners PanaBios and Econet have demonstrated tremendous support towards this goal, and we anticipate their technology will help accelerate the implementation of the campaign and safe reopening of Member States,” says John Nkengasong, Director for Africa CDC.
Kenya is among the first countries targeted in the first phase for the adoption of the portal. Some of the R&D partners helping in the initiative, with capabilities such as machine learning and blockchain fo instance Koldchain, have a presence in Kenya.
“The Africa CDC Trusted Travel Portal and MyCOVIDPass technologies highlight the power of partnership in our Africa Against COVID-19 campaign. We want to utilize the “whole of Africa” approach to ensure harmony, standardization, and coordination in the development of a public health safe corridor for travelers on the continent”, states Nkengasong.
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.
Kenya Airways (KQ) has expressed strong support for the Africa Union and the Africa CDC’s intervention.
KQ Director of Sales Julius Thairu says the move is critical in increasing Travellers’ confidence in air travel in order to restore economic confidence.
“We find the Africa CDC Trusted Travel initiative not only timely but vital to the ongoing continental economic recovery, and Kenya Airways would like to announce its enthusiastic support in making it a success,” Thairu noted.
Other companies in support of the initiative include Ethiopian Airlines, Ampath, Cerba Lancet Africa, Egypt Air, Asky, Aero Contractors, the Governments of Ghana, Namibia, and Cape Verde, among others. Due to the support of continental business associations such as AfroChampions, the services come at no cost to travellers.
The move towards digital solutions for the 55- member state intergovernmental union is critical even as the Union commits to meet the Africa Continental Free Trade Area operationalization deadline of January 1, 2021 despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
African countries have started opening up their economies encouraged by low and declining death and infection rates.
Schools are reopening, bars and restaurants are reopening, air travel is reopening, curfews and travel restrictions are lifting and markets are getting back to full capacity.
The continent, which has 17 percent of the world’s population, has recorded 33,430 deaths from Covid-19, or about 3.5 percent of the global total.