The Department of Home Affairs will digitise 286 million records through the digitisation project it recently launched in partnership with Statistics South Africa.
Birth certificates will be prioritised, followed by other documents.
The digitisation project, converting information into a digital format process, signifies a transition from the old systems of record keeping to a modern, efficient and secure storage method.
Speaking at the launch, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said digitising records will make them easily accessible.
He said modernising the department means using the most modern, innovative technology and management approaches to fulfil the department’s mandate.
“It means taking the 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,” he said.
Minister Gigaba said the space for housing documents is scarce and expensive.
The Department of Home Affairs has 286 million records, 90 percent 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.
“Paper records are vulnerable to loss, deterioration and fire, despite the care with which we store them. Digitising these records means we will be able to access records quickly,” he said.
A total of 5.8 million birth records are to be digitised a year. Records will be indexed by ID number for easy retrieval irrespective of office location. Electronic records can be viewed and accessed by more than one person simultaneously.