On Wednesday, May 16, South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, launched a new automated biometric identification system that will offer a single source for biometric authentication for citizens. This is new identification system forms an integral part of the Department’s Modernisation Programme.

This Automated Biometric Identification System, or ABIS, is an identification system which will also act as a security solution, and will replace the outdated and manually operated Home Affairs National Identity System, the idea being to merge the two into an automated system through ABIS with the capability to identify and verify people through fingerprints, facial recognition and iris technology. However, the system’s iris and palm print recognition capabilities are only scheduled to come online by 2019/20.

ABIS forms a fundamental baseline for the broader National Identification System, which will encompass the data of both South Africans and foreign nationals in a single data base.

At the launch of this new system at the Taj Hotel in Cape Town on Wednesday, the Minister Gigaba said that the system will drastically change the manner in which South Africans are identified and will form the backbone of how the public and private sectors will manage the authentication of their clients.

By Daniëlle Kruger