Self-service for passports and smart ID in the works

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) plans to roll out self-service kiosks for residents to apply for smart ID cards and renew passports.

The department’s deputy minister, Njabulo Nzuza, announced the plans during his budget vote speech, adding that the kiosks will allow clients to reprint birth, marriage, and death certificates.

“The 2022/2023 budget will see us exploring new ways to better service citizens,” Nzuza said.

“We will procure kiosks that will allow clients to self-service for passports and smart ID applications and reprint birth, marriage and death certificates.”

Nzuza said the system would require users to verify themselves using biometrics and would be accessible after-hours and on weekends.

It is expected to roll out in the 2022/23 financial year.

He also explained the DHA’s intentions for its branch appointment booking system, which is in a pilot phase.

“The Branch Appointment Booking System pilot currently operates on a hybrid model in the 25 offices that we have rolled in because we didn’t want to turn away clients that have not made a booking,” Nzuza said.

“In the future, we would like to only service booked clients for those two products because it is our firm belief that scheduling an appointment for those two products is possible compared to scheduling a death or birth registration.”

Njabulo Nzuza, South African Deputy Minister for Home Affairs

The theme of the DHA’s budget vote speech was improving the service it provides citizens, and minister Aaron Motsoaledi also announced other projects that he said would help the department achieve this goal.

Motsoaledi revealed the DHA’s intentions to open branches in major shopping malls across the country, with trials starting at three in Gauteng, one in KwaZulu-Natal, and one in the Western Cape.

He explained that the five malls had offered rent-free space for five years and that the project would alleviate the issue of queuing outside of Home Affairs offices in the sun or rain.

“Malls will also provide convenient and safe parking for clients,” Motsoaledi added.

He also revealed that the State IT Agency (Sita) plans to spend R400 million revamping the DHA’s network to address the problem of extensive system downtime.

Motsoaledi acknowledged that downtime was a significant issue in Home Affairs’ offices.

“It is painful and generates a lot of anger to visit a Home Affairs office very early in the morning and just stand there and wait for hours on end because all systems are down,” he said.

Sita has now doubled Home Affairs’ Internet capacity and set up three failovers in Tshwane, Cape Town, and eThekwini.

“This will ensure that if any of the network is down, there will be two to support our services,” Motsoaledi stated.

Sita has also installed a software-defined network for Home Affairs, which Motsoaledi said will increase bandwidth to the DHA’s applications.

In addition, Sita has finalised its cybersecurity procurement plan for Home Affairs’ IT infrastructure.

Now read: Joburg to spend R316.5 million on smart city systems

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Self-service for passports and smart ID in the works