South African Department of Home Affairs to issue smart ID cards this year

February 19, 2013 - 

The South African Department of Home Affairs plans to issue citizens with new biometric smart ID cards as soon as this year.

With the aim to reduce identity fraud and theft, the department says these new cards will be “almost impossible to fabricate.” According to Minister Naledi Pandor, the plan is to issue the new cards this year, though a specific date has yet to be announced.

Reported in iTWeb Security, these cards will also have embedded microchips which could be used to secure state pension payouts, among a list of other uses currently under consideration. In terms of biometrics, the new smart card IDs will contain fingerprint data and a permanent image of the card holder.

“The principle is that the rollout will be in a phased approach,” Pandor said. “Part of this approach is to target old age pensioners first, or Cabinet ministers, or have people apply by their month of birth or by age group.”

Though the department is still working out its finances for this project, the cards should cost the same as existing identity books.

According to the iTWeb Security report, this card project was originally intended to be piloted at the end of 2008, though that pilot only took place early last year. The printing contract was initially sent out to tender but was later cancelled, citing irregularities. The contract is now being handled by the Government Printing Works.

South Africa is joining the growing list of countries with electronic identity card programs in place. As convenient travel, along with the constant shipment of goods between continents, many governments have maintained that more reliable identification and authentication methods are required and have turned to electronic identity programs. A recent Biometric Research Note indicates that the market for eID cards is expected to reach US$5.2 billion by 2015.

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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj