Kenya used this nifty technology to move essential goods during COVID-19

.. as part of their efforts to deal with the pandemic

Kenya used this nifty technology to move essential goods during COVID-19

image from Kenya

COVID-19 has spared none. It has raged its fury across continents and nations. While the world is grappling with its onslaught, this pandemic has also forced changes in day to day processes and this is where Kenya in Africa probably has lessons that all of us could use and benefit from.

Consider this - Kenya is the 7th most populous country in the Africa region with a population of around 53 million. Their overall control of pandemic has been quite good so far. With just over 5000 cases and less than 2 deaths per million population, their numbers rank quite well not just in Africa but even compared to the more developed countries of their size e.g Spain and UK.

Of the many areas where Kenya has done well is in the issuance of special passes for essential goods and services. When the dusk to dawn curfew was imposed across the country and there was the cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi Metropolitan Area as well as the counties of Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale, the normal business operations, including supply and provision of essential goods and services were badly affected.

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), on behalf of its esteemed members, demonstrated leadership and came up with an innovative approach to issue tamper-proof special passes that would help achieve the twin purpose of containing the spread of the pandemic and yet continue to maintain the supply and distribution of essential services helping keep the economy running and mitigating the hardship for the general public. The KNCCI then engaged with the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprises Development to issue special serialized stickers and passes to businesses affiliated to the Chamber that are classified as essential services. Which is when they researched on the internet and learnt about secure QR code technology. They turned to Techno Brain, a trusted service provider to help them with the solution for these passes. Techno Brain partnered with Qryptal for the secure QR code technology and had this up and running in a short period of time.

These stickers are embedded with tamper-proof, encrypted and highly secure QR code which can be verified on demand. Thus they adopted the latest in technology, rolling out a centralised and quick solution and yet maintaining the critical requirement of easy verification. These stickers and passes are affixed physically on the vehicles indicating the car registration number, name of the driver, national ID number and company name.

Sample KNCCI Covid-19 passSample KNCCI Covid-19 pass

Mr Nandan Gopalakrishna, Managing Director, Identity Management, Techno Brain has this to say about Qryptal

“We thought of Qryptal’s Secure QR code technology when we wanted to come up with an E-pass solution for essential service workers in Kenya during Covid-19. Thanks to the easy-to-use and the security and privacy-focused nature of this technology, we were able to immediately adopt and deploy it for this purpose. We hope to use it in many other use cases soon. “

KNCCI’s special passes have helped its members and the government in significantly streamlining the movement and operations inside its cities and its various counties. Hassle-free movement and distribution of essential services is particularly valuable at times of such pandemics and curfews to ensure the well-being of people.

KNCCI was looking at an easy-to-use solution with emphasis on security and privacy that would help have strict control on the movement of goods, services and people engaged in essential services, provide easy verification and allow the issuance and distribution of these passes/stickers to be organised in a centralised manner. Secure tamper-proof QR code enabled special passes was their answer and Qryptal helped to provide this through Techno Brain.

This is how it works

  1. Members of KNCCI apply online giving details of their membership and specific details of their need that includes the essential services, name of the driver and business registration number etc.

  2. Special passes are issued to bonafide members and their fleet with an embedded secure QR code that captures the details on the ‘pass’ itself.

  3. This pass is a sticker on the windshield of the vehicle. There is a centralised record of all stickers issued in an electronic format as well.

  4. These secure codes are digitally signed by the private key of KNCCI and are tamper-proof. No one else can then create or modify them on behalf of the KNCCI.

  5. The QR code on the pass is scanned by an App which carries the corresponding public key to validate the information and present it to the verifier.

Scan of e-passSample Covid-19 pass - Validation result

Above is the validation result on scanning the Secure QR code on a sample KNCCI pass - all that detailed information can be seen.

This is a case of semi-closed-loop verification, where one issuing authority has the responsibility of issuing passes which are verified in the counties even other than the one where the issuing authority is based. This solution is extremely simple and quickens the movement of authorised vehicles and persons and helps avoid bottlenecks at the checking points in terms of time taken or process to be followed.

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