The South African Identity Federation (SAFIRE) was formed as a joint project of TENET, the SANReN Competency Area, and the HEITSA with the aim of establishing federated identity services to serve the needs of the research and higher education communities in South Africa.

TENET act as the juristic person of record for SAFIRE. As a result, SAFIRE’s assets are owned by TENET and all SAFIRE’s staff are employed by TENET. Ultimately accountability, therefore, exists with TENET’s Board. However, TENET’s Board has granted the Federation significant operational autonomy.

SAFIRE recognises two categories of beneficiaries: members and participants. Members are identity providers that contribute financially towards SAFIRE and who are typically signatories of TENET’s REN Master Service Agreement (MSA). Participants are identity providers and service providers who make use of SAFIRE’s services. By virtue of the MSA, Members have formal representation in TENET’s governance structures; participants do not.

From 2017–2023, oversight of SAFIRE was delegated to a Steering Committee. However, on 4 December 2023, SAFIRE’s governance was harmonised with other services operated by TENET. Thus the bulk of the functions of the Steering Committee now fall to TENET’s SLA Reference Group.

We are in a process of defining a service advisory group which will provide technical oversight and advice to SAFIRE’s operations team. This will replace the larger SAFIRE Participants’ Forum that was disestablished concomitantly with the Steering Committee. In the mean time, an informal grouping providing this role continues to exist in the form of the safire-discuss mailing list.

South African Identity Federation