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Innovation to help travellers in Africa comply with COVID-19 protocols

By , Zimbabwe correspondent
Africa , 14 Oct 2020

Econet Wireless and PanaBIOS have unveiled two new applications that are designed to assist travellers across Africa comply with COVID-19 safety protocols.

The applications – the Travel Pass and the PanaBIOS App – have already been adopted by the African Union (AU) and the Africa Centre for Diseases Control (Africa CDC)-led Trusted Travel portal, which simplifies verification of public health documentation for travellers at national 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, test results and vaccination certificates.

Econet spokesman, Fungai Mandiveyi said: “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.”

“We are urging all international travellers to download the Sasai App and have access to the Travel Pass that will help them to navigate through the safety travel protocols across the continent,” he added.

African countries have to take measures to safeguard their citizens and economies amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as more markets begin to reopen borders to international travellers.

Several countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe have reopened international airports, removed or relaxed curfews and resumed international tourism as a way of kick-starting their economies that were hit by the COVID-19-induced lockdowns.

The African Union Commission has launched the ‘saving lives, economies and livelihoods’ campaign aimed at reducing the spread of infections within and across borders by creating a unified public health corridor for safe travel on the continent.

The campaign will facilitate the development of a harmonised strategy to protect borders, travellers, economies, livelihoods and schools in Africa from the risk of increased COVID-19 transmissions as countries re-open their borders and their economies.

John Nkengasong, the Director for Africa CDC, said: “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.

“We want to utilise the ‘whole of Africa’ approach to ensure harmony, standardisation and coordination in the development of a public health safe corridor for travellers on the continent.”

The move towards digital solutions for the 55-member state intergovernmental African Union is critical even as the Union commits to meet the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) operationalisation deadline of January 2021, despite COVID-19.

Africa, which accounts for 17% of the world’s population, has recorded nearly 25,000 COVID-19 related deaths, according to the World Health Organisation’s regional office for Africa.

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