enya and Tanzania have agreed to harmonise COVID-19 protocols and testing validation across the border to ease trade between the two nations. Health Ministers from the two countries, Mutahi Kagwe and Dr Dorothy Gwajima, announced this when they met in Nairobi yesterday.
“This bi-lateral engagement goes along the way not only to emphasise the value of good health but also to confirm and even cement the cordial relationship the two countries have enjoyed over the years,” Kagwe said.
Testing the truck drivers and other traders across the borders has been a major concern. Kenya and Tanzania are trade partners with a turnover of over Sh53 billion annually.
“Trade is among the most affected sectors of the economy, yet it plays a huge role in ensuring citizens earn a living,” Gwajima said.
Kenya and Tanzania renewed their trade relations a few months ago when Samia Suluhu Hassan met President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi on her first official visit. The two countries signed a deal for a gas pipeline that will run between the coastal cities of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.
The pipeline will help reduce the cost of electric power, Kenyatta said, and will help transition Kenya to environment-friendly energy. Hassan and Kenyatta also agreed to reduce barriers to bilateral trade, in order to grow businesses and investment between the two countries.
Until early this year, Tanzania did not release official COVID-19 statistics or embraced the regional protocols adopted by the East Africa Community. One of the key initiatives that was the rolled out is Regional Electronic Cargo and Drivers Tracking System (RECDTS) that was supported by Trademark East Africa (TMEA).
RECDTS is designed as a mobile phone application that enable the issuance of the EAC COVID-19 digital certificates that are mutually recognised by Partner States, thus eliminating the need for multiple testing as well as contributing to easing congestion at East Africa border crossing points.
RECDTS provides a surveillance system to monitor long distance truckers’ crew health and enables contact tracing. It allows Partner States to electronically share truck drivers’ COVID-19 test results; therefore, minimising the need for multiple COVID-19 tests in a single trip.