Minister touts SITA-driven broadband project

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 05 Apr 2024
Communications and digital technologies minister Mondli Gungubele. [Photograph by GCIS]
Communications and digital technologies minister Mondli Gungubele. [Photograph by GCIS]

Communications minister Mondli Gungubele has once again restated plans by the State IT Agency (SITA) to implement a national broadband project, worth at least R6 billion.

However, timelines as to when the national broadband project will get underway remain unknown.

Gungubele yesterday briefed media about the performance of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) and its entities, which includes SITA.

The minister initially announced the SITA national broadband project during his budget vote speech last year, noting it would complement government’s SA Connect broadband project.

Yesterday, he gave more detail and said the R6 billion-valued project will be allocated and divided on a regional basis. He added that the plan intends to reduce the cost and duplication of connectivity infrastructure across government, from municipalities up to national government level.

“This project will also ensure that designated groups, such as enterprises owned by women and youth, are empowered with at least 40% value of this project, while creating opportunities for innovative locally developed solutions to find traction in our market,” he stated.

In terms of performance objectives for the 2024/25 financial year, he said: “SITA will ensure 98% core network availability for 7 570 connected government sites cutting across national and provincial departments.”

An entity of the DCDT, SITA sits as a central pillar of government's IT procurement arm.

However, the entity has been plagued by challenges over the course of its more than 20-year history. These include allegations of corruption and mismanagement of procurement processes, leadership instability, as well as a client base that is increasingly frustrated with the poor level of service delivery.

"Work has begun to improve key value chains and processes of SITA towards meeting efficiency expectations in building a resilient modern digital environment for an evolving South Africa.

"To this end, a special directed intervention in the form of, the SITA ministerial task team to fast-track procurement backlogs has commenced work. SITA is in the process of meeting all clusters and provinces to find resolutions to all their urgent ICT challenges,” said Gungubele.

He highlighted one of the areas that SITA has made progress in, specifically a National e-Government Portal with 92 digitised government services. “This past year, the digitised services have attracted utilisation of over 899 394 logins, with over 1.4 million registered users,” he said.