South Africa’s $A200M program to digitise civic paper records

South Africa is embarking on a three-year program digitize 350 million civic paper records relating to birth, marriages, deaths, and amendments.

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi said the project expected to cost R2.4-billion ($A209 million).

Speaking during a media briefing on Thursday, 11 August, Motsoaledi explained that 90% of the R2.4 billion will be used to pay the stipends of the employed graduates and the rest will be used to purchase the necessary equipment, according to News24.

"The department has more than 350 million civic paper records relating to birth, marriages, deaths and amendments. The category of records dates back to 1895 which necessitated care and reliable systems that will bear tolerance for digitization purposes. It must be noted that the department is increasingly using technology to improve the way it renders services to the people and to improve the security of our documents," said Motsoaledi.

He said they would recruit 10,000 unemployed graduates who have qualifications in information technology, information and records management to assist in digitizing their system, explaining that it used to take a long time to process unabridged birth and marriage certificates and other documents because they had to manually search through 350 million documents.

Motsoaledi said the project would run over a three-year period, effective from November 2022 until October 2025.

“Successful youth will be paid a stipend ranging from R5 000 ($A435) for entry level positions to R9 500 ($A827) for technical support level positions and R14 250 ($A1241) for manager level positions.”

He said this cohort would be required to sign a three-year contract linked to the duration of the project.

"Once the records are digitized, home affairs officials will have access to them at a click of a button and would be able to finalize the applications instantly. This will obviate people having to come to the office on multiple occasions," he said.