The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has announced plans to make South African citizens sort out their own Smart IDs and Passports. This is via self-service kiosks, which the DHA plans to roll out before the end of next year. The announcement comes not long after the DHA announced they were opening more branches, including branches in a select few shopping centres.
Home Affairs minister Njabulo Nzuza announced the self-service kiosks during his budget vote speech, saying that users will be able to reprint birth, marriage, and death certificates. This is in addition to the ability to apply for a Smart ID or passport.
The self-help kiosks will require users to identify themselves using biometrics. As a bonus, the kiosks will be open all day, and after hours, to accommodate everyone looking to use them. No Home Affairs workers will be required unless security becomes a problem for the kiosks. Which may well be the case.
Not much more information was given regarding the kiosks. But we can be sure the department will want to show them off to the world when the time comes.
Upgrades people, upgrades!
The budget vote speech’s central focus was improving quality of life features for South Africans who don’t have time to put up with the DHA’s downtime. Of which there are many.
“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,” said Aaron Motsoaledi
These aren’t the only upgrades the DHA has implemented recently. SITA (State IT Agency) has pledged R400 million to revamp the DHA’s network capabilities, to avoid its current lengthy downtime. SITA has doubled Home Affairs’ internet speeds and set up three failovers to avoid further crashes. If a crash does occur, backups will supposedly keep things running smoothly.
But SITA isn’t done upgrading just yet. SITA also installed a software-defined network for the DHA which will apparently increase bandwidth. Lastly, SITA has finalised a cybersecurity procurement plan for Home Affairs’ IT department. Hopefully that comes with a little ransomware protection.
It appears as if Home Affairs really is trying, even though it’s a couple of years too late. Still, we can’t fault them for trying. These initiatives feel like good improvements for the country.