The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is working on expanding its online system to allow users to apply for their IDs and other essential documents without going into a physical branch.
The department also intends to expand its network of satellite offices at local bank branches, and bring its own front offices online.
Answering in a written parliamentary Q&A this week, Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that citizens with access to the internet can currently only apply for smart IDs and passports online using the existing system.
These services are set to be expanded to include a range of online options, he said, while also bringing Home Affairs front offices onboard.
“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.
Digitising Home Affairs
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 a presentation to parliament at the end of August, the DHA outlined a new appointment system that will be integrated with the national population register to allow citizens to use their ID number to book a slot at a front office.
The system has been finalised and will be deployed in selected offices in the current financial year. The aim of the system is to cut down queuing times at front offices, and hinder corrupt activity associated with blocking and selling time slots, the department said.
More bank branches
The DHA also plans to expand its partnership with banks to offer more services at branches across the country.
In the August presentation, 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.
“This initiative was done mainly to assist with the reduction of long queues at DHA offices and to expand the service platforms and allow citizens to apply for Smart ID cards and passports online.
“Applicants are only required to visit the bank branch to complete the biometrics, thereby reducing the time spent in the bank or DHA office.”
The department said that the rollout of pilot sites would be completed as soon as possible as this has been outstanding for several years.
All of South Africa’s biggest banks – except for Capitec – offer the E-Home Affairs service at a handful of their branches.
Absa, FNB, Nedbank, and Standard Bank have had multiple branches supporting the service for several years. Discovery Bank and Investec Bank recently started participating in the programme with one branch each.