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Government taps ICT research firm to conduct SA Connect study

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 02 Sept 2020

The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) have appointed local research firm BMIT, to conduct a feasibility study for SA Connect phase two.

This comes as government looks for the best ways to implement the next phase of the broadband project.

SA Connect, first announced in 2013 by the then Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, is the national broadband project identified by government to meet the technology goals of the National Development Plan of creating an inclusive information society.

In terms of the connectivity project, government aims to bridge broadband connectivity gaps and seeks to achieve the targets set out in the SA Connect policy.

Due to the magnitude of the project, government determined it should be implemented in two stages: phase one and phase two. In terms of phase one, the project aims to connect all schools, health facilities, government offices, Thusong Centres and post offices, in eight rural district municipalities, to broadband services.

The idea of a feasibility study into the implementation SA Connect phase two was revealed by the DCDT last year, noting it was working with the DBSA to determine the best way to move forward with the project.

In the request for proposal (RFP) for a service provider to carry out the study, the DBSA outlines that SA Connect has, to date, been funded through the medium-term expenditure framework budget. It commenced with the connection of approximately 970 facilities considered to be phase one of the programme.

The DCDT applied for additional funding through National Treasury’s newly launched Budget Facility for Infrastructure (BFI) for the remainder of the broadband connections, phase two, which will expand connectivity to approximately 42 000 identified government facilities countrywide.

In considering the department’s application, the BFI recommended that a comprehensive feasibility study be conducted to determine the viability of phase two and the implementation thereof.

“The DBSA’s role in the SA Connect Programme is derived from a memorandum of understanding signed by the DBSA and the [DCDT] to establish a framework for collaboration by the two parties in relation to the implementation of the SA Connect programme.

“It is against this backdrop that DBSA is assisting [DCDT] to appoint a service provider to undertake the feasibility study for phase two of the SA Connect Programme.”

Local market research firm BMIT has begun the work on the feasibility study, inviting stakeholders to participate in an online survey.

BMIT says the survey should take 10 minutes to complete and participants may remain anonymous if preferred.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this study has been flagged as a high priority by the Presidency. We, therefore, request your response by 11 September.

“Please feel free to forward this invitation to other executives in your organisation and other key stakeholders. Your contribution of experience and insights to the SA Connect Feasibility Study is highly appreciated.”

To participate in the online survey, click here.