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New biometric digital ID system in South Africa to enhance service delivery, security

New biometric digital ID system in South Africa to enhance service delivery, security
 

A new biometric-based digital identity system dubbed NIS, currently being developed in South Africa, will go a long way in enhancing access to a variety of services for citizens and other foreign nations living the country, according to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).

The DHA writes in an official notice that the ID system, which is expected to be in place by March 2024, will not only trigger economic transformation for the country but will also ensure the security of citizens and expatriates. It is also expected to reduce incidents of fraud as well as boost digital government and business transactions.

“The department is in the process of implementing a single integrated source of biographic and biometric information – to make digital service delivery a seamless reality. The current disparate civic and immigration systems will produce secure data that will feed into the NIS according to an identity management policy and an updated identification Act. Under this system, all processes – the registration of births, marriages and deaths – will be digitized and secured,” the DHA said in a statement quoted by Business Tech.

The report recalls that the NIS, being developed to replace the current National Population Register, is part of the country’s ten-year digital transformation plan and “will be enabled by robust integrated backend systems and modern network infrastructure, which in turn will enable all DHA front-end processes and alignment with all related government systems.”

Among other things, the new digital ID system will enable digital processes for issuing birth, marriage and death certificates; the use of modified screening procedures at e-gates at high volume land points of entry for pre-approved frequent travellers; and a single platform for the adjudication of permits and visas, Business Tech writes.

The DHA has assured the system will phase out some of the challenges citizens have often faced in accessing certain services and will be able to also enjoy people-centric services.

‘Smart card’ driving licenses may roll out this year

Meanwhile, it is likely that a new design for driving licenses in South Africa will become operational in the course of this year if the cabinet okays a proposal that will be submitted to it, Business Tech reveals in a separate article.

The report attributes this development to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula who says these plans started last year when government initiated the move to replace the current laminated driving licenses with ‘smart card’ versions.

The Driving License Card Account (DLCA) – the body in charge of producing licenses in South Africa – is quoted as saying the new document will be designed with new technology and will meet international standards in the domain.

“The introduction of the new driving license involves a new design of the driving license card and the re-engineering of processes to allow for agility and focus on delivering services efficiently and quickly. The project will allow for the adoption of digital technologies such as blockchain and other related technologies which will form the platform an integrated transport system,” says the DCLA in a statement.

The DCLA has voiced plans of equally introducing an electronic driving license in the future.

The current driving license issuance system in South Africa, however, is already reported to be experiencing technical issues, which have led to nearly 400,000 licenses not being printed.

Last year, South Africa also launched a tender seeking a biometric provider to manage its tax-payer system.

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