‘Who am I’ ready to roll


The long-awaited multibillion-rand Department of Home Affairs “Who am I Online” project is finally ready to roll out, with the first phase set for the first quarter of 2010.

The move into the first phase of the project is being delivered about a year late, as this phase was initially set to be delivered in April this year, ITWeb reports.

“Who am I” has to be rolled out in time for the Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup, as the department has given assurances to the organisers of the games that it will be ready. As a result, its service provider, listed outsourcing company GijimaAst, has to stick to tight deadlines.

SA is expecting half-a-million tourists for the month-long tournament, which will run in the middle of next year. The system will provide entry documents for the visitors.

Stephen Bosman, GijimaAst’s managing executive for strategy and governance, says the system will be rolled out to several local and international Department of Home Affairs (DHA) centres, in time for tourists arriving for the World Cup. Bosman says the exact number and location of sites is still being determined.

Siobhan McCarthy, spokesperson for the DHA, says the priority entry and foreign embassy sites will be ready in the first quarter of next year. This will give the department a three-month window to iron out any bugs.

McCarthy explains that the sites are being scoped to make sure they have the necessary infrastructure to handle the new system. In addition, the department has started training officials in the new processes.

The R2.5 billion “Who am I” project has been dogged by controversy since it was first mooted several years ago. The project is the DHA’s integrated business system, which aims to replace all manual processes with online and real-time transactions.

A consortium, headed by GijimaAst, was awarded the deal for the project in 2007. It has been hampered by shifting deadlines, but Bosman says it is now as “on track as you can get”.

The initial deadline set for the roll-out of the “Who am I (I am I said)” project was the end of March this year. By that date, the system was supposed to have been available in all Home Affairs offices, mobile units and selected hospitals, morgues, post offices and chain stores.

Then the date shifted to the end of April, when the first part of the project was set to be complete. “We have actually given them [Home Affairs] a commitment that we will deliver the application on the 29th [of April],” said GijimaAst CEO Jonas Bogoshi at the time.

In August, GijimaAst group FD Carlos Ferreira said the project would shortly move into the pilot phase.

The project will provide branch offices and field teams with access to two core systems. The national population register (NPR) and the Home Affairs National Information System (Hanis) are currently only accessible to officials at the department’s Waltloo head office, resulting in delays of urgent documentation for at least a week.

The NPR is a mainframe database containing the identity records of every living South African citizen, resident and deported illegal immigrant, 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 national population register.

With the application, DHA officials, border guards and immigration officers countrywide will be able to check identities against Hanis. The positive biometric verification at DHA offices around the country will allow temporary identity documents to be issued immediately.