By Stephen Macharia
The African Union (AU) has lauded Kenya after the East Africa’s biggest economy became the first country to adopt the use of the AU-backed Trusted Travel (TT) platform for managing travels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All inbound and outbound travelers in Kenya require a digitally verified COVID-19 certificate to travel into and out of the country as the country heightens measures to contain further infections.
Kenya’s Health Ministry announced the new measures earlier this month amid rising cases of falsified COVID-19 certificates. In November last year, about 100 travelers bearing forged COVID-19 free certificates flew out of Kenya only to test positive for the disease in Dubai.
The Trusted Travel platform contains information on travel requirements at the destination ports. It also gives travelers access to a list of approved laboratories conducting the COVID-19 tests in Africa. The Ministry of Health (MoH) has approved 43 laboratories, so far, to issue COVID-19 free certificates.
MoH says inbound travelers from countries where the platform is unavailable “will use the Global haven portal www.globalhaven.org or the trusted travel portal to generate travel codes.”
According to these new regulations, travelers departing from Kenya are required to “visit authorized laboratories to take the test.”
“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 African Union said in a statement.
John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, commended Kenya for adopting the use of the TT platform. The platform, he said, will boost trade in the country by enabling safe travel in a time of disruption. He also called on travelers to use the platform noting the AU is contributing towards building confidence in international travel.
“Kenya has always been a trailblazer of innovation on the African continent, but it is its commitment to continental integration that makes our collaboration on digital health cooperation through Trusted Travel such a powerful showcase of pan-African innovation,” he says.
Nkengasong notes the COVID-19 pandemic is now in a “critical stage as economies reopen and travels resume.”
He calls on AU member states to “pay attention to the prevention of transmission, prevention of deaths and prevention of harm” adding the Trusted Travel portal will facilitate the safe reopening of African economies.
This travel innovation mitigates duplication of COVID-19 tests in Africa and contributes to saving livelihoods in Africa from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The TT is expected to ensure efficacious testing for COVID-19 and instill confidence in international travel. It will also harmonise travel requirements by eliminating duplication of COVID-19 tests in Africa.
The African Union launched the Trusted Travel in October 2020 during a joint ministerial meeting of the health, transport, and information and communication ministers of the African Union Member States.