South Africa is getting a new ID system – how it will work

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Government is in the process of developing the new National Identity System (NIS), which will replace the current National Population Register and become the backbone of all Home Affairs functions in South Africa.

The system, which is expected to be operational by March 2024, will enable the security and reliability of civic and immigration status linked to identity and biometric data. In this way, the NIS will effectively act as a single source of information on all South Africans.

This will enable economic transformation, efficient service delivery and enhance the security of citizens and all known foreign nationals in South Africa, the Department of Home Affairs said.

“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 digitised and secured, it said.

It added that the successful implementation of the NIS will lead to a substantial reduction in fraudulent transactions, and enable efficient e-government and e-commerce services.

A 10-year upgrade

The new National Identity System forms part of a broader modernisation programme which the Department of Home Affairs is undertaking over a 10-year period up to 2028/29.

“The digital transformation will be enabled by robust integrated backend systems and modern network infrastructure, which in turn enable all DHA front-end processes and alignment with all related government systems,” it said.

Some of the key elements which will be phased in through the new model and form part of the NIS include:
Digital processes for issuing birth, marriage and death certificates;
The use of modified screening procedures at e-gates at high volume land ports of entry for pre-approved frequent travellers;
A single hub for the adjudication of permits and visas.

Notably, all of these services will be accessed through a number of channels involving partners, such as public and private health systems for birth and death registration, the department said.

“The implementation of the new model will eliminate historical challenges, including long queues and fraud.

“Digital transformation and continuous innovation will enable the DHA to become a provider of people-centric services and identity data verification for both government and private institutions.”


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