The South African Department of Transport is preparing to overhaul its driver’s license system, and the changes are expected to pave the way for digital IDs in the next few years. The mobile driver’s licenses would debut sometime in the 2024/2025 fiscal year, though the country would presumably conduct some kind of pilot prior to the official launch.
The government is hoping that the introduction of electronic driver’s licenses will help alleviate some of the application backlog for new driver’s licenses. Under the new program, residents would need to apply for a physical driver’s license, but would have quicker access to a mobile version that could be stored on a standard smartphone.
In the interim, the Department of Transport is exploring other measures to minimize the strain on the current system. Most notably, the country could extend the validity of a license to a full 10 years. It could also partner with the Department of Home Affairs to issue a joint document that could serve as a driver’s license and a national identity card. Those driver’s licenses would come with a slew of new security features to make sure that South Africans would be able to trust it as a secure form of identity verification.
South Africa is planning to pilot its new physical cards in October of 2023, and would move forward with its plans for a digital version once the physical cards are in circulation. The Department of Transport still needs to conduct a procurement process to find a card provider. The Driving License Card Account is responsible for the production of South African driver’s licenses, and is taking the lead on the development of the new project.
Digital IDs have been gaining momentum in the past few months, with South Korea and the Czech Republic recently moving forward with their own plans for digital driver’s licenses. South Africa, meanwhile, is considering a new regulation that would link someone’s biometrics to their mobile number to try to prevent SIM swap fraud.