Cabinet approves SA Connect Phase 2 — 100 Mbps for Home Affairs offices

South Africa’s Cabinet has approved the rollout of the second phase of the government’s SA Connect project.

SA Connect aims to provide 80% broadband access in communities and government facilities with a minimum speed capacity of 10Mbps, and 100 Mbps for high-demand facilities such as Home Affairs.

Cabinet initially adopted SA Connect in 2013 as part of the country’s broadband Policy.

Over the next three years, 42,000 government facilities, communities, and households will be connected by state-owned entities such as the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), Broadband Infraco, and Sentech, as well as private companies.

“The project forms part of government’s commitment to bridge the digital divide, especially in rural communities, and advance the digital economy,” Cabinet stated.

“The participation of the private sector will also address the transformation of the sector by involving all relevant role players in the electronic network sector.”

Due to the project’s magnitude, the programme was divided into phase 1 and phase 2.

The first phase served as a pilot and saw the provisioning of 10Mbps broadband services to around 970 critical government facilities in eight district municipalities, as shown in the table below.

Initially, the government had aimed to connect 6,135 facilities in phase 1, including schools, health facilities, post offices, police stations, and government offices, but the scope was reduced due to budget constraints.

The project envisions the pooling of public sector demand and procuring high-capacity and future-proof network capacity at more affordable rates to address the public sector’s broadband requirements.

In the process, the government aims to stimulate network builds by the network operators by ensuring demand and reducing the associated investment risk.

The lack of proper connectivity at government institutions has been a major headache for South Africans, who are often confronted with the usual “the system is offline” excuse, particularly at Home Affairs offices.

While an upgrade to broadband infrastructure at Home Affairs would be welcome, it may not immediately solve the problem of the lack of redundancy at most of the department’s offices around South Africa.

During a spat between the department and Sita in June 2021, the State IT Agency revealed that Home Affairs only paid for a bronze service, which meant many of its offices were still running on a single 2Mbps copper-based ADSL connection with a basic service level agreement.

Without any “backup connections” for redundancy, these offices were often unable to serve citizens without access to the Internet.

Now read: “The system is down” — Home Affairs officials deliberately destroying systems

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Cabinet approves SA Connect Phase 2 — 100 Mbps for Home Affairs offices