The maintenance and roll-out of Tshwane’s free Wi-Fi project, TshWi-Fi, will be put out to tender.
This means it is not guaranteed that current contractor Project Isizwe will continue to supply the city’s Wi-Fi services.
“After months of negotiation with Project Isizwe, the City believes we can take the first important step to secure the future of Tshwane free Wi-Fi,” said member of the mayoral committee for corporate and shared services, Cilliers Brink.
News of the tender process comes after the Auditor General red-flagged the R180 million spent on Tshwane’s free Wi-Fi network as “unlawful and irregular expenditure”.
Brink said the solution will need to be approved by the City Council at its June meeting, but as it stands it can be summarised as follows:
- The contract between the City and Project Isizwe will be amended to allow for maintaining the quality and the reach of the current free Wi-Fi offering.
- The agreement with Project Isizwe will run until December 2017 to enable the City to put the operation of the service out to tender, or to find other means of maintaining the service without relying on a sole supplier.
- The City and Project Isizwe will continue to test the commercial potential of free Wi-Fi as an advertising space, and all revenue raised in this manner will accrue to the City.
- The details of how the free Wi-Fi network will be operated by a service provider other than Project Isizwe will be finalised in the next four months.
“We acknowledge that although its means of procurement may have been left wanting, the City did receive substantial benefit from its investment in free Wi-Fi,” said Brink.
Brink said that with the short-term future of free Wi-Fi secured, the ingenuity of the private sector now becomes crucial to securing the service in the long-term.
“It is simply not possible for the City to sustain its full subsidy of free Wi-Fi indefinitely, or to fund the expansion of the network on its own.”
Commercial investment and partnerships are needed, he said.