Sentech funding still pending for building national broadband network in South Africa


The country's Dinaledi schools still have not been connected and there is no news on Sentech's funding to build the National Wholesale Broadband Network to be used for this purpose.

The schools form part of the Department of Education's (DOE's) drive to improve maths and science pass rates across the country and boost the number of ICT graduates.

The schools are supposed to be connected through the National Wholesale Broadband Network which Sentech is mandated to build with R500 million that government has given the state-owned institution. However, Sentech remains underfunded, as government initially allocated R3.8 billion for the completion of the network. It is not known if and when Sentech will receive the rest of this funding.

Polly Modiko, spokesperson for Sentech, states: “The R500 million allocation for broadband is still not adequate to roll out the National Wholesale Broadband Network and the Dinaledi schools. The money has been ring-fenced until such time that Sentech is allocated total funding and/or given approval to pursue alternative sources of funding. At the same time, preliminary stages of the roll-out have been implemented – [such as] site surveys [and] training of e-cadres.”

In the meantime, the DOE is looking at what it needs to do with underperforming schools – and says a decision will only be made at the end of the month. “We are currently doing some analysis on the schools, then we will decide what action we will take, if any. Only once schools have reopened and we have done our analysis will we decide whether to replace underperforming schools or provide them with extra resources,” says Penny van der Walt, deputy director-general for further education and training at the DOE.

Van der Walt says that so far, 16 schools have been identified as failing to meet the minimum pass requirements set out for them – but no decisions have yet been taken about their fate.