Why the Tshwane free Wi-Fi project is so expensive – R320 million for 1,050 sites

The City of Tshwane recently revealed that the current cost for the roll-out of 11 phases of its free Wi-Fi project was R320 million.

Actual expenditure to date for 2016/17 was R78 million, and the budget for the 2017/18 financial year is R88.5 million.

News of the cost of the project was delivered with an announcement from the municipality that it has made a breakthrough in placing its free Wi-Fi service on a lawful and sustainable footing.

This comes after the Auditor General flagged R180 million spent on Tshwane’s free Wi-Fi network as “unlawful and irregular expenditure”.

While Tshwane said it halted all expenditure following the Auditor General’s report, there are still questions about why the “TshWi-Fi” network is so expensive.

Member of the mayoral committee for corporate and shared services Cilliers Brink told MyBroadband that Project Isizwe currently operates 1,050 Wi-Fi sites across the city.

TshWi-Fi costs more than it should

At R320 million in total, this suggests Tshwane paid almost R305,000 per Wi-Fi site.

Brink said if you look at the project objectively, it probably cost the city more than it should have.

“It’s an enormously innovative project, but the right thing to have done was to send it to tender,” he said. This is something the previous ANC administration did not do.

However, Brink said the costs of the project are not just for Wi-Fi infrastructure and services – the Tshwane TV streaming service and the development of a mobile app are also included.

Brink explained that the 1,050 Wi-Fi sites across the city were brought online in tranches, with maintenance on each tranche paid every three years.

After the maintenance contracts on the first five sites expired, Project Isizwe maintained them in good faith until Tshwane’s new administration could resolve the irregularities in the contract.

Project Isizwe – No comment

Project Isizwe was contacted for comment about how it sets its prices for delivering Wi-Fi services in Tshwane, but it did not respond.

Now read: Auditor General declared Tshwane free Wi-Fi project unlawful

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Why the Tshwane free Wi-Fi project is so expensive – R320 million for 1,050 sites