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Further funds for DHA’s digitisation project

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 22 Feb 2023

Budget 2023: The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has been allocated R839.9 million in the 2023/24 financial year (FY) for its digitisation project.

Of this amount, R559.5 million will go towards compensation of young people employed for the project, according to National Treasury’s 2023 Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) document.

The remainder of the funds will be used to procure ICT equipment and goods and services, it states.

“This year’s funds will mainly be used for recruiting more graduates, compensation of employees and payment for capital assets.”

The home affairs digitisation project was announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address last year, forming part of government’s efforts to curtail unemployment among local youth.

At the time, Ramaphosa said the home affairs department will recruit 10 000 unemployed young people for the digitisation of paper records, enhancing their skills and contributing to the modernisation of citizen services.

As part of this project, the DHA intends to convert more than 340 million paper-based South African civic records into an electronically searchable format by 2025/26. Additionally, it aims to contribute to public and social employment by recruiting unemployed young graduates to work on the project.

To kick-start the project, R500 million was allocated to it in the 2022/23 FY, which resulted in the recruitment of 6 000 graduates at a cost of R289 million.

The remainder was used to procure capital assets, such as digital scanners, storage and backup hardware, and barcode printers. The department plans to recruit a further 4 000 graduates in early 2023/24.

In terms of its modernisation efforts, the DHA is working on a number of projects, including a system for advance screening of all passengers and crew travelling to, from or through South Africa by air or sea.

“For this purpose, the passenger name record is expected to be rolled out over the medium-term expenditure frameworkperiod to enable improved risk assessment by including data from airline reservation systems, such as payment details, travel itineraries and baggage information.

“Preparatory work has begun to implement the system. This includes the purchasing of hardware, software design, system and hosting maintenance, and the appointment of service providers. For this purpose, R225.5 million is allocated in 2023/24 in the immigration affairs programme.”

Other ICT modernisation projects across the department over the medium-term include rolling out biometric movement control systems at identified ports of entry; developing a live‐capture system for births, marriages and deaths; managing asylum-seekers; and developing and rolling out the e‐visa system.

“These projects will be funded at an estimated cost of R875 million in 2023/24 in the transversal information technology management sub-programme in the administration programme.”

Over the medium-term, the DHA also plans to introduce self‐service machines that will allow clients to directly apply for smart ID cards and passports, and for re‐issuing birth, marriage and death certificates.

“These machines will be installed in offices to increase the number of clients that can be served, as well as in strategic locations such as shopping centres.

“The department is running a pilot programme at Menlyn Mall in Pretoria. These initiatives are expected to cost R10 million in 2023/24 in the transversal information technology management sub-programme in the administration programme.”