South Africa’s cabinet has asked the Department of Transport to investigate the possible linking of driver’s licences to identity cards. The government is considering various options to combat the growing backlog licence, according to transport minister Fikile Mbalula.
Link it up
A new licence card could potentially link to identification cards in South Africa, making it akin to a national identity card. Swiss citizens and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens used something like this as an alternative to presenting passports. The difference is that Europe’s version combines a passport and an ID document. South Africa is investigating combining ID documents with a driver’s licence.
Mbalula has previously raised the possibility of incorporating identification elements into South African licences. He noted that several other countries have already merged driving licences with their identity cards, such as Australia and New Zealand. At a press conference earlier this year, he said the country’s new driving licence will feature several improvements including international recognition. It would be an effective collaboration between the Department of Home Affairs and Transport Department systems, Mbalula claimed.
Let’s get digital
The Ministry of Transport will go through a procurement process with the new licence card. The card itself will be tested in October 2023. Following a new physical licence, an electronic driver’s licence will be in the works. The electronic version will be available via the driver’s smartphone.
The electronic driver’s licence is expected to launch in 2024 or 2025. It will be officially known as a mobile or electronic driving licence (eDL).
Mbalula added that the Driver’s Licence Card Account (DLCA), which is the business entity responsible for producing driver’s licence cards in South Africa, is leading the project.
He also confirmed that the Road Traffic Management Corporation was investigating extending driver’s licence validity to ten years. He added that the grace period for renewal of driving licences that expired during the Covid-19 lockdown extension has been extended to 15 April 2022.
Stuff reached out to the transport minister’s department for comment but had not heard back at the time of publication.