9 big changes coming to Home Affairs in South Africa – including self-service and the ‘end of downtime’

The Department of Home Affairs is introducing a number of changes to its systems and at its branches to improve service delivery, says the department’s minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A, Motsoaledi said that this will include a significant overhaul of its backend IT infrastructure, as well as improvements at a branch level.

The key changes include:

  • Self-service: Implementing a Department of Home Affairs self-service kiosk system for collections, reprints of birth, marriage and death certificates, and re-issue applications for Smart ID’s and passports. This is expected to be completed by the 2024/25 financial year to reduce long queues and ease access to Home Affairs’ services.
  • Banks: Increased rollout of Department of Home Affairs services such as ID and passports to more banks in all provinces.
  • Internet speed: Upgrading most of the Department of Home Affairs branches across the country to a minimum of 2MB line or higher bandwidth.
  • Connectivity: Closer cooperation with other state and private entities on improving access to the internet to the areas that do not have internet connectivity.
  • Minimised downtime: Implementing LTE internet routers to most Department of Home Affairs branches in all provinces to minimise service interruptions due to cable theft.
  • Mobile trucks: Introducing 100 trucks with VSAT connectivity and a live-capture system for use in rural areas.
  • Power: Improved management of generators in terms of maintenance together with the Department of Public Works to minimise the issue of power outages that affect ICT infrastructure.
  • Equipment: A partnership with connectivity equipment manufacturers will improve turnaround times to replace connectivity hardware infrastructure.
  • Relaxed procurement: The implementation of a strategy wherein the Department of Home Affairs has access to a localised pool of pre-approved service providers wherein a procurement of a connectivity service can be expedited without the onerous procurement processes.

The Department of Home Affairs is also developing a new online system that will allow users to apply for their IDs and other essential documents without going into a physical branch, Motsoaledi said.

The minister said that citizens with access to the internet can apply for smart IDs and passports online under the current system.

South Africans can also use participating banks to provide applications of smart IDs and passports. These services are set to be further expanded to include a range of online options, he said.

“The same eHome Affairs digital channel will soon be used to allow clients to book appointments, not just with the participating bank branches, but with participating Home Affairs front offices as well.

“(This will apply to) various services, and not just smart IDs and passports,” he said.

Motsoaledi said that digitisation was critical to the department’s strategy in the future. “The Department of Home Affairs acknowledges the adoption of digital transformation and the implementation of ICT technologies that enhance service delivery channels. That’s why there are current e-modernisation projects in place and an e-home affairs digital channel.”

In August, the department said that there are currently 27 bank branches that offer E-Home Affairs services across six different provinces. It plans to roll out these services to a further 43 sites.

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9 big changes coming to Home Affairs in South Africa – including self-service and the ‘end of downtime’