The State IT Agency (Sita) has cancelled a tender for the construction of a rural broadband network under government’s South Africa Connect broadband strategy.
Late last week, Sita published a notice in the Government Gazette cancelling tender number RFB 1439/2015 for the “appointment of a service provider for the provisioning of broadband connectivity to certain government faciliteis in eight district municipalities”.
The tender was for the “phase 1” implementation of the South Africa Connect programme.
Sita has not said why it has cancelled the tender; questions sent to the agency on Friday by TechCentral have gone unanswered.
News of the cancellation of the tender comes just days after a report that said that six companies had been shortlisted for the tender.
Telkom, which had been expected to be a frontrunner for the project, was not among the shortlisted names. The partially state-owned telecommunications operator had previously been named by President Jacob Zuma as the lead agency for government’s broadband roll-out plan.
According to a report on ITWeb, which cited Sita as its source, the companies shortlisted were Broadband Infraco, EOH, MTN, Neotel, Vodacom and Tradepage & Galela Telecommunications as a joint venture.
The Democratic Alliance has now called on telecoms & postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele to explain why the tender has been cancelled.
“In oral questions time in the national assembly on 9 November, the deputy minister of telecoms & postal services Hlengiwe Mkhize twice avoided my question of whether Telkom had submitted a bid in response to the tender which ICT analysts said was tailor-made for Telkom,” Shinn said.
Shinn said the first phase, for which national treasury has allocated R1,5bn in the current medium-term economic framework, was to be a pilot phase to connect 6 235 government facilities in eight district municipalities.
Phase 2, for which there is no available funding, was to roll out broadband connectivity to 35 211 facilities in the remaining 44 district municipalities by 2020 to meet the SA Connect target of 90% population coverage, she said. — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media