The South African Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) controversial project to distribute access to its Identity and fingerprint databases is running into overspend and late delivery problems.
The project could potentially revolutionise the DHA by providing access to two core systems to branch offices and field teams. The national population register (NPR) and the Home Affairs National Information System (Hanis) have, to date, only been accessible to officials at the DHA’s Watloo, Pretoria, head office.
The NPR is a mainframe database that contains the identity records of every South African citizen, resident and deported illegal, while the Hanis automated fingerprint identification system contains their photographs and fingerprints. Hanis is used to verify identity and acts as a “guard dog” for the NPR.
The “Who am I (I am I said)” project will allow DHA officials, border guards and immigration officers countrywide to check anyone’s identity against the NPR and Hanis. It will also simplify the visa application process for foreigners, which is why it is meant to be part of government‘s 2010 preparations. It will replace all manual identity management processes with online and real-time transactions.
The Department of Home Affairs’ controversial project was awarded to a consortium headed by GijimaAst, in October 2007. However, the project had been plagued by various allegations of irregularities, including questions over its constantly increasing costs. The initial tender for the project was R1.9 billion; however, when the contract was finally signed in mid-2008, the cost had increased to R2.5 billion and since then has grown to about R4 billion.
Only one part of the application will be delivered by the end of this month, as part of a rush to have systems in place by the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The focus for now will be on key immigration systems, such as visas, permits and movement control.