Financial constraints may bring Gauteng Broadband Network phase 2 to a halt

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has learnt that the Department of e-Government has approached the Gauteng Infrastructure Funding Agency (GIFA) to assist in sourcing funding for the GBN Phase 2 project, valued at R2.8 billion, after it became evident that alternative sources had to be found to fund phase 2.

GIFA has a history of being incapable of bringing projects to a financial close and to the construction stage. One such example is the Kopanong Precinct Project, which has been in the making for the past 17 years at a huge cost to the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG).

Given GIFA’s track record it would appear as if the GBN phase 2 roll-out will take a long time to come to fruition.

It is also concerning that the departments’ current budget allocation will only be sufficient for the maintenance of existing sites and not for any new sites that have been planned for in the GBN Phase 2 roll-out.

This information was revealed during a Finance Portfolio Committee meeting held to discuss the e-Government Budget Vote. The department’s budget for the 2020/2021 financial year was adjusted downward to R1,416 182.00 from R1,422 111.00

However, according to the department they are in the process of trying to find an alternative budget for the project.

With unemployment and job losses at the highest levels ever seen in this country the delays in getting the GBN fully up and running will impact heavily on the recovery of the Gauteng economy.

Increased ICT production and use has contributed significantly to economic growth worldwide and could potentially lift the province out of its current stagnation.

Greater access to information and opportunities for collaboration can create job opportunities, transfer of skills and greater efficiency and transparency – something we as a province and a country desperately need.

The DA will be closely monitoring the roll-out of this project where needed will put pressure on GPG to ensure that this project is completed within budget and the set timeframes.