SA Connect phase two roll out continues

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 21 Feb 2024
SA Connect is government’s flagship programme that aims to provide broadband in underserviced areas.
SA Connect is government’s flagship programme that aims to provide broadband in underserviced areas.

Budget 2024: The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) will continue to roll out phase two of government’s ambitious broadband project South Africa Connect (SA Connect).

This is according to National Treasury’s Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) document that coincides with the 2024 budget speech.

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana is today presenting his 2024 National Budget Speech at Cape Town City Hall. The minister delivers his budget speech amid a tough economic climate, with government looking to investments to grow the economy and create more jobs.

In the ENE, Treasury notes, an amount of R2.4 billion is allocated for implementing the project over the medium-term, this figure includes one-off allocations for phase two made in 2024/25 (R1.9 billion) and 2025/26 (R267.4 million).

The spending is said to be in the broadband sub-programme in the ICT Infrastructure Development and Support programme.

The National Treasury document notes: “The department will continue to roll out the South Africa Connect project, supported by relevant state-owned entities such as Broadband Infraco, Sentech and the State Information Technology Agency.

“As a result, 970 government facilities will continue to be provided with connectivity over the MTEF (medium-term expenditure framework)period through phase 1 of the South Africa Connect project, and 5.1 million households will be connected through phase 2.”

Now in the making since 2013, SA Connect is the national broadband project identified by government to ensure universal access to broadband services for all South Africans, prioritising rural and underserviced areas.

Due to the magnitude of the project, the state determined that the project should be implemented in two stages: phase one and phase two.

In phase one, it aimed to connect schools, health facilities, government offices, Thusong Service Centres and post offices, in eight rural district municipalities, to broadband services. During this phase, about 970 government facilities have been connected to broadband.

Phase two of SA Connect officially kicked-off late last year, and had initially been expected to connect 1.9 million households in the 2023/24 financial year, although this was revised down in last year’s ENE to 882 000 households. Figures for the number of households actually connected in the financial year 2023/24 have yet to be released.