No lead agency for SA Connect yet: gov't - TechCentral

No lead agency for SA Connect yet: gov’t

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Government says it hasn’t yet selected the “lead agent” for its R740m municipal broadband project, despite indications that Telkom could win the deal.

At the 2015 state of the nation address (Sona), President Jacob Zuma said government had “decided to designate Telkom as the lead agency to assist with broadband roll-out”.

Zuma said last year that the first phase of the broadband roll-out would connect eight district municipalities in South Africa, ranging from Dr Kenneth Kaunda in the North West to Vhembe in Limpopo.

The announcement sparked concern from the Democratic Alliance, which has asked why the project wasn’t put out to an open tender, especially as government owns 40% of JSE-listed Telkom.

And on Thursday this week, Bloomberg reported that Telkom is said to be nearing sealing the deal and that the company has even “carried out site inspections and studied how to implement the plan in eight districts”.

But the department of telecommunications & postal services says it hasn’t yet selected the lead agent for the project.

“The lead agent in the roll out of broadband through the government policy known as SA Connect has not been appointed yet,” said department spokesman Siya Qoza.

“The department is following due process to facilitate the roll-out of broadband for phase one, which aims to link government facilities in eight rural districts to fast, secure and reliable Internet,” said Qoza.

Asked if Telkom is in the running for the project, Qoza declined to comment.

Telkom also declined to comment on the matter.

Zuma, in his Sona 2016 address on Thursday night, briefly brought up the topic of government’s broadband roll-out plan in two sentences.

However, his statement this year on the topic didn’t make mention of Telkom carrying out the roll-out.

“Government will fast-track the implementation of the first phase of broadband roll-out to connect more than 5 000 government facilities in eight district municipalities over a three-year period,” Zuma said.

“Funding to the tune of R740m over a three-year period has been allocated in this regard,” he said.  — Fin24

3 Comments

  1. William Stucke on

    Good. Keep it that way. If this is to happen at all (and I’m by no means convinced that government has any role to play at all, except for the policy environment) then it needs to all be open, transparent, and above board.

  2. Greg Mahlknecht on

    This is becoming a thing for Zuma – naming appointees to important roles, but forgetting to everyone, including them, about it!

  3. Greg Mahlknecht on

    Agreed – at no point should they be “rolling out to 5000 government facailities in 8 municipalities” – if anything they should be “announcing 5000 government anchor clients” – this would help all the other fiber players secure the funding to get the builds done a lot faster.

    Government’s only role in this should be to state they’ll only buy connectivity from open networks. There is no need for a lead agency.

    A few weeks ago, VOX were punting enterprise-grade FTTB for R5000 (50Mbps) or R9000 (100Mbps) to me, and these are good prices. If all 5000 sites went for the lower option, that’s R900m over 3 years, I’d bet the builds would be finished in under a year, thousands of people would get sustainable jobs, and that money would be going directly to the workers. And all the government would have to do is commit to spending what they were planning to anyway, I’d bet most would save a lot of money getting off their current infrastructure.

    I think it’s here that the Telkom connection becomes apparent – you can bet that most those clients are currently Telkom clients, and if put to open tender, Telkom would be lucky to win 10% of those contracts; that’s hundreds of millions of rands a year at stake for Telkom. Government’s 40% share in Telkom creates an insurmountable conflict of interest here.