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South Africa expects to finish first phase of biometrics system this year

Rumor suggests Idemia could be brought in to help
South Africa expects to finish first phase of biometrics system this year

South African authorities say they plan to have the first component of the Automated Biometrics Identification System (ABIS) in place in the course of this calendar year after a review of an audit report into an initial tender process for the project would have been completed.

According to ITWeb, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) recently received a report of a forensic investigation into the tender process for the biometric system, which was awarded in 2015 to local technology services company EOH Holdings.

The investigation, per ITWeb, was prompted after the ABIS project failed to be executed within the previewed 12 months deadline because some documents went missing from the contract file. The full report is however still being awaited.

Citing DHA spokesperson Siya Qoza, ITWeb said efforts to ensure the completion of the project have been since been on, as contractor EOH is still tied by some contract obligations and is working to deliver despite a more than two-year delay on the project. DHA Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is also said to be attempting to save the project.

“The project is still continuing with its implementation on the basis of the signed master services agreement between DHA and EOH. EOH has not been released from its obligations. The DHA intends to finalise the ABIS issues before the end of the current calendar year, to ensure phase one of the project goes live into production,” ITWeb quoted the DHA spokesperson as assuring.

Irregularities surrounding the project have also led to reports about recommendations for a new contractor for the ABIS, with the name of subcontractor Idemia being mentioned.

The DHA minister has however refuted claims that the French firm is in line to take over the biometric project, but admitted his ministerial department has a number of options under consideration.

The ABIS is a multi-million digital ID project intended to provide a single source of identification for South African citizens to be used for state institutions. The project is estimated at R400 million (roughly US$26 million), and R244 ($16 million) has reportedly been spent already on some services, infrastructure and software.

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