The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa says that the new identity card dubbed smart identification cards will go a long way in solving identity problems in South Africa, Minister of Home Affairs Naledi Pandor has disclosed.
The new cards, which were introduced mid-year to the implementation cost of 5. 34 billion South African Rand (about US$ 530 million), have an electronic chip and is expected to be issued to all South Africans over the next eight years and to phase out the existing green ID book.
It is envisaged that the new smartcard process will take only three days, whereas the turnaround time on the old green barcoded ID was about 54 days after application. Home Affairs has said that it is likely to be able to produce three million ID cards a year.
The smart ID cards were launched on Mandela day in July 18.Prominent South Africans were the first to receive the cards with the rest rolled out to the rest of the country.
Pando said people have been treated differently especially rural people who have been finding it difficult to get Identity cards. She said they will now have the opportunity to acquire common citizenship which is enjoyed by all South Africans.
South Africans will be able to obtain their smart ID cards in 27 regional offices throughout the country and three extra offices have been opened, one in Gauteng Provence and the other in Cape Town to facilitate smooth change of ID cards.
The director of the Department of Home Affairs Mkuseli Apleni said the new system will be more efficient than the green bar-coded ID books due to the biometric technology used in the card. The green ID book has been prone to rampant forgery.