The East African Community (EAC) launched a system to issue COVID-19 digital certificates to truck drivers in order to boost regional trade, an official said on Tuesday.
Christophe Bazivamo, deputy secretary-general of EAC told a virtual meeting that the EAC Regional Electronic Cargo and Driver Tracking System (RECDTS) will allow partner states to electronically share truck drivers’ COVID-19 test results, therefore, minimizing the need for multiple COVID-19 tests in a single trip.
“The reliance on manual certificates and delayed test results at the borders has been reported as one of the main reasons for costly long delays at border points. The jointly recognized EAC COVID-19 digital certificates are expected to boost regional trade,” Bazivamo said.
The trading bloc developed the app in accordance with the mandate given by the first joint ministerial meeting of EAC ministers responsible for Health and EAC Affairs.
Bazivamo said that the app provides a surveillance system to monitor long-distance truckers’ crew health and also enables contact tracing.
“It is expected that RECDTS will contribute to protecting lives, support health-related protocols, and facilitate safe trade. RECDTS will be in use in all partner states and will eventually be extended to EAC neighboring countries, ” he said.
According to the economic bloc, so far 40,000 truck drivers have been registered into the system which began the pilot phase in July.
Bazivamo noted that the system will be able to provide a cross border joint coordination framework for the ministries of health officials along the transit trade corridor in order to control the spread of the virus across the borders.
Kevit Desai, Kenya’s principal secretary, ministry of EAC said that the system will enhance the productivity and efficiency of the transport sector by providing real-time information on drivers’ COVID-19 free status thereby facilitating faster clearance of truck drivers at the border points.
Desai noted that the innovation comes at an appropriate time because it will facilitate the continuity of trade in the region while enhancing health measures among truck drivers.