New digital Home Affairs system promises faster ID and passport applications


Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba launched the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) in Cape Town this week.

The new system is a massive leap forward for Home Affairs and Gigaba says it will drastically change how South Africans are identified.

“This modern IT system will integrate with other relevant systems, inside and outside Home Affairs, to allow for one holistic view of the status of the clients. It will serve as a single source for biometric authentication of citizens and non-citizens across state institutions and private sector clients,” the minister said in a statement.

The system itself saw input from firms such as CSIR, which outlined the specifications of the system, SITA which procured the platform that was used to build the entire system and EOH who was responsible for delivering the final system.

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Over the next five years, the data from the aging Home Affairs National Identity System will be migrated to the new ABIS system. This data includes fingerprints as well as facial recognition.

For the ordinary South African this new system promises to improve turn-around times for IDs and passport applications.

We’ve already seen how fast and simple applying for a passport can be when systems run efficiently so we are hopeful that Home Affairs can uphold this promise.

But its not just faster applications we can expect from ABIS. Gigaba says that eventually the system will be used to reduce cases of duplicate identities as well as assist the South African Police Service with looking for suspects.

“The system will also lead to improved border control, which should create a competitive economic environment to attract critical skills, enable growth, increase foreign direct investment and create jobs,” Home Affairs added.

The department adds that the system is multi-modular, scalable and secured by bleeding-edge security protocols.

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“As part of ABIS awareness, officials will be exposed to new and modern ways of working,” Gigaba concluded.

While we are skeptical of the claimed efficiency of this system it has been in development since 2016 so we’re hopeful that the product being rolled out this week is ready to go without too many teething problems. Time will tell we suppose.

[Source – South African Government News Agency]

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