The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with the African Union Commission has launched a digital platform to help the resumption of travel across Africa.
The Trusted Travel app which was developed by PanaBIOS and Econet is intended to promote standardised and harmonized information on travel restrictions.
The portal will help to verify Covid-19 test results as required at the entry points of various countries.
This comes to aid the smooth reopening of African economies that had been locked down due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
Trusted Travel was rolled out at an online media briefing on October 5, after the Ministerial Summit on the creation of the platform.
It provides information on the travel requirements to other all enlisted African countries. It is divided into four parts namely; Public Health Authorities, Covid-19 test lab test providers, Airline operators and travelers.
Speaking at the event, Director of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, John N. Nkengasong explained the need for Trusted Travel.
He noted that the official roll out of the initiative was to ensure trusted testing and is underpinned by the need to protect the economy and lives.
Mr John Nkengasong added that there needs to be a consensus among all countries considering the different Covid-19 test requirements at their various point of entry.
“17 countries out of the 55 still have stringent restrictions to travel. 29 countries still have free movement of people and 9 countries have very tight closure measures on the ability to move. “If we have to let air, sea or land movements coordinated across the continent then all countries must have an understanding of what we have to do to harmonise that,” he said.
The Africa CDC Director called for the cooperation of the public, heads of transports sectors and members of the private sector to help achieve the goal of the initiative.
“This is the beginning of a process and there will be several phases and countries so that one doesn’t run into country X and say we haven’t seen this at the airport. Understand that we are starting with the hubs which about 12 countries on the continent then we keep rolling out aggressively as much as possible,” he explained.
He noted that PCR tests or antigen test will be the only tests accepted for this verification as they tell whether a virus is replicating in an individual.
Director of Sales at Kenya Airways, Julius Thairu noted that the airline has resumed work despite the unchanged depressed demand.
However, he said the company was trying to restore the confidence of their passengers as most of them are worried about their health safety hence the new platform is in the right direction.
“The fact that different countries have different requirements creates a lot of complexities. The fact that there is no one trusted source for these information creates further complexities for our customers. As Kenya Airways, we are very excited to be involved and actually participate in this initiative,” Mr Julius Thairu stated.
The Sales Director admitted that Trusted Travel digital platform aligns with the company’s vision to create a comfortable transport environment for their patrons.
He said that since airlines drive the economy of countries, it is essential that the travel space is supported to recover. He added that Africa’s innovation in this regard is laudable.
Chairman for Ampath Laboratories, Robbie Buck said the results need to be delivered in real-time in a secure and trustworthy way.
In his view, the Trusted Travel platform meets all these criteria.
“We are the largest private laboratory in Africa and we provide testing services throughout Southern Africa. We would like to add our congratulations to the African CDC for providing the Trusted Travel partnership and for developing a portal that allows for travel harmonization,” he said.
He was quick to mention that only test results from accredited laboratories should be enlisted in the database.
Other speakers at the launch include; representative for the Minister of Tourism & Transportation for Cape Verde, Carlos Santos and Corporate General Manager & Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Cerba Lancet Africa, Matthieu Gogué.
They all hailed the development which they say will affect the economy of participating African states and provide co-ordinated requirements.
In August 2020, the African Union launched ‘Saving Lives, Economies and Livelihoods’ to promote harmonised, standardised and coordinated entry and exit requirements for African Union Member States.
This will be accessed through a digital platform, Trusted Travel, developed by PanaBIOS and Econet. The app is now available on the Africa CDC website (https://africacdc.org/trusted-travel/)
The app will be rolled out from countries which are travel hubs and have a high volume of traffic. In those countries, there will be African Union booths to aid travelers to understand how the process works. Subsequently, it will be expanded to other countries.
About the African Union
The African Union spearheads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens. AU Vision: to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission.
About Africa CDC
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union which supports Member States in their efforts to strengthen health systems and improve surveillance, emergency response, prevention and control of diseases.