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On 9 January 2021, the Government of the Republic of Kenya announced the launch of its Trusted Travel platform, based on the Africa CDC Trusted Travel platform, becoming the first country to adopt the platform for managing travels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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 travellers,” said Mr Mutahi Kagwe, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Health.
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 travellers and to help harmonize entry and exit screening across the continent.
The platform provides information on travel requirements at the departure and destination ports and access to a list of government approved laboratories for COVID-19 testing in African countries. It allows travellers to upload their COVID-19 test results online for easy verification by port health and travel officials and helps in the detection of forged certificates. This in turn will help establish trust and confidence in test results among government authorities, airlines, transport services operators and other stakeholders in the transport sector across the continent.
“As our economies, schools and borders re-open, Africa needs a harmonized approach to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. This is why we launched the COVID-19 trusted travel portal as an innovative digital tool to help Member States upload and verify test results and to harmonize entry and exit requirements to prevent cross-border transmission on the continent,” said H.E. Amira Elfadil Mohammed, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission.
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.
The Trusted Travel platform provides an extensive suite of technologies that will enable Member States to verify the authenticity of test results and vaccine certificates issued by other countries. Without such system, the proliferation of user-tampered and fake test and vaccine certificates will undermine efforts to minimize cross-border transmission while allowing trans-border economic activities to take place. The platform is secured and safe and has been developed using international standards of cybersecurity and data protection protocols.
Other partners involved in providing oversight for implementation of the Trusted Travel Initiative include the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, African Civil Aviation Commission, Airport Council International–Africa, African Airlines Association, and the International Air Transport Association.
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.