South Africa: Launch of Digitisation of Birth Records

25 November 2016


Speech by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Malusi Gigaba MP at the launch of the digitisation of birth records in Pretoria

Modernising Home Affairs is the first of the five priorities I have set for the Department during my tenure as Minister.

Modernising the department means using the most modern, innovative technology and management approaches to fulfil our mandate.

It means taking inconvenience away from our clients.

It means moving from a paper-based department with all the accompanying inefficiencies, slow processes, security risks and opportunities for corruption, to a digital department which is efficient, fast and secure.

South Africans have already seen a glimpse of this modern, digital future, and experienced its benefits, when applying for Smart ID cards and passports in our modernised offices, and through eHomeAffairs.

South Africans were used to waiting months for these documents only a few years ago, and now get them in a few days.

Just as the live capture system has revolutionised the process of applying for vital documents, so the digitisation of birth records will revolutionise the National Identity System.

This project, in partnerships with Statistics South Africa, is of enormous importance to the country.

Home Affairs has 286 million records, 90% of which are in paper format.

Most of these are records of Births, Marriages, Deaths, ID applications, Naturalisation and Permitting and date back to the late 1800.

Not only does public administration depend on these records, but they have immense historical value.

They include, for example, 110 million birth records, which carry records of generations, and can be used to construct family trees.

Having primarily paper records has become a huge challenge.

The space for housing them is scarce and expensive.

The time required for staff to physically locate and access individual records for means lead times of weeks and months for many transactions, such as amendments and reprints of older birth and marriage certificates.

Source: Press Release