Mastercard and The Econet Group, through its subsidiary Cassava Fintech International, have signed a strategic partnership to drive digital inclusion across Africa amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

The companies will work closely on various initiatives including the expansion of the Africa CDC TravelPass, which is available to users of Cassava Fintech’s Sasai SuperApp.

Developed by Cassava Fintech, TravelPass is a digital health pass offered in conjunction with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

It said to be one of the leading initiatives in combating the cross-border spread of Covid-19 in Africa.

Mastercard will now work with Cassava Fintech to improve the security of TravelPass through its Community Pass platform.

This platform is developed to facilitate service delivery for marginalised individuals and communities, including access to critical health services such as patient care plan tracking for Covid-19.

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The initiative is expected to encourage safe cross border travel in Africa as it continues to fight the pandemic.

Cassava Fintech CEO Darlington Mandivenga said the partnership would pave the way for both companies to jointly tackle the challenges facing African economies as they re-open post the pandemic.

Mandivenga added: “We are excited to work with Mastercard to explore solutions that will, among other things, mitigate the risk of falsified presentation of a third party’s Travel Pass at access and transit points.”

As part of the tie-up, the companies plan to further integrate the Community Pass with Cassava Fintech’s mobile and financial services.

Additionally, they also aim to work together for acquiring and processing card payments across Africa and the rollout of a virtual or physical card on the Sasai SuperApp.

Commenting on the development, Mastercard Southern Africa Divisional president Mark Elliott said: “In addition to digital innovation for future travel, Cassava will also leverage our secure payments network to advance access to financial services.”

Last month, Mastercard announced a $10m commitment to directly address critical Covid-related needs in India.