Gijima to gun again for smart ID card project


IT company Gijima says it will bid for the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA) upcoming smart identity card contract. CFO Carlos Ferreira says Gijima had bid for the smart card project, which will replace the traditional green ID books of South African citizens.

“We are certainly not put off government projects. Government is still one of the biggest IT consumers in the country. They’re a good customer, generally,” he said after news of a settlement between his company and the department related a dispute over the “Who Am I Online” (WAIO) identity management project. That project will now be completed for “less than R2.4 billion” according to Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni, after threatening to cost taxpayers R4.5 billion.

The multibillion-rand smart ID card system was in 2009 awarded to a consortium led by Gijima. However, an audit showed irregularities in the way it was awarded by the State IT Agency (SITA) and the contract was withdrawn. The smart ID card system is supposed to replace the current green ID book that South African residents are required to have as proof of identity for various official institutions, such as banks, government services and to vote. Residents can apply for one from the age of 16. However, these ID books are often forged or altered.

Smart cards were first mooted in 1995 when the DHA issued a request for tenders for a Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) consisting of such a solution as well as Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). Only AFIS was awarded – in 1999. After many more delays the digitisation, as well as migration, of the Home Affairs fingerprint and photograph archives were completed in 2007.
“We believe we have a solution for the smart ID card and we will bid again,” says Ferreira.

Meanwhile, it has emerged the bulk of the WAIO cost escalation was beyond Gijima’s control and can be blamed on SITA. Addressing the media on Monday, SA Revenue Service (SARS) commissioner Oupa Magashula said the contract had three components

Part A was the development of an integrated core business system which would automate the various processes of the department. This was originally costed at R695 million but climbed to R1.5 billion.

Part B was the implementation of this business system across various Home Affairs sites both in South Africa (including all Home Affairs branches and all key ports of entry) and abroad (including a number of foreign missions). This included infrastructure and computer hardware on which the application would operate ad was costed at R1.2 billion. This later climbed to R1.4 billion.

Part C: This involved the shared government “middleware” to be provided by SITA. R200 million was budgeted for this, but it climbed to R1.6 billion when this was not forthcoming. The cost of this component has since decreased as WAIO can now link into SARS systems.

In addition, money was due as interest on computer equipment leased from HP and IBM.