South Africa's Home Affairs Department issued 100 pilot ID smart cards earlier this year to test their functionality and durability, Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said on Thursday.
The smart card ID system will, in a phased process, replace the current civic and immigration identity systems.
It will enable the government to digitally capture biometric and biographical details of all South Africans or foreign nationals, which will be stored in one integrated system.
"We are happy to announce that we are on track with plans to [start rolling] out the smart ID card in 2013," Apleni said.
He also said the issue of duplicate IDs continued to receive the attention of the department.
'Efficient, corrupt-free service'
With regard to rendering a service "that is efficient, accessible and corrupt free", the department continued to train its management.
About 98.3% of IDs were issued within 47 days, amounting to 222 713 in the second quarter. About 95.9% passports that were processed manually were issued within 24 days, amounting to 98 316 in the period under review.
"With offices that have live capture capacity, 97.49% of passports were issued within 13 days. This amounts to 35 269 passports," Apleni said.
The department was also aware of challenges relating to applications for permanent residence permits.
"The department took a decision to prioritise temporary residence permits, as this category of foreigners was at risk of being in the country illegally if their applications were not finalised timeously," Apleni said.
Addressing permanent residence backlogs
Home Affairs had begun to address the permanent residence backlog from August this year.
In addressing this backlog, the department recognised its role in contributing to South Africa's economic development and national priorities as they relate to the attraction of critical skills, Apleni said.
As such, officials intended to address the backlog by facilitating the speedy adjudication of permanent residence applications from applicants with critical skills.
Applications for permanent residence permits from holders of "quota work permits and exceptional skills work permits" would be prioritised in line with the country's objective of attracting critical skills.
Once these applications were finalised, authorities would process other categories of permanent residence applications.
"Our projection is to finalise the backlog by the end of the current financial year," Apleni said.