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Parliament to Summon Education Minister Over GH¢84m Free Wi-Fi Deal

Written by on June 10, 2024

Deputy Ranking Member of Parliament’s Education Committee, Dr. Clement Apaak, has announced plans to summon Education Minister Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum to Parliament concerning the provision of free Wi-Fi to Senior High Schools (SHS).

Minority MPs are insisting that the Minister addresses lingering questions regarding the free Wi-Fi contract.

During an interview on the Super Morning Show on Monday, June 10, Dr. Clement Apaak stated that if the Minister fails to appear before the Committee, he will be brought before the plenary.

Dr. Apaak disclosed that he has been pursuing answers from the Minister regarding this deal for three years to no avail. He stressed the urgency of resolving the matter and the imperative for transparency in the Minister’s dealings.

The Builsa South MP reiterated the Minority’s dedication to holding all individuals involved in the free Wi-Fi deal accountable.

He emphasized that the Minister’s prolonged evasion of the issue has only amplified the necessity for a comprehensive investigation.

“When we resume tomorrow [Tuesday], I will consult with my leadership, and I believe the education committee now has a justifiable basis to summon the minister to address these questions before the committee. If he refuses to comply, then we will have no option but to submit a motion to the speaker, requesting his presence to answer the questions that I posed to him two to three years ago,” he stated.

Regarding the contract:

This development stems from an investigation conducted by The Fourth Estate, which unveiled that in 2018, a five-year contract was awarded to Busy Internet without the necessary parliamentary approval, as mandated by Ghana’s Public Financial Management Act.

The investigation underscored that Busy Internet was selected over industry leaders like MTN, which had recently been licensed to provide 4G internet services, and Surfline Ghana Limited, another 4G service provider.

When questioned by The Fourth Estate, Free Senior High School Coordinator William Darkwa explained that major players were disinterested in the project due to concerns about delayed government payments.

Despite winning the contract, Busy Internet subcontracted MTN Ghana and AirtelTigo to deliver the services it had promised to provide to secondary schools and education offices nationwide.

Initially, the Wi-Fi system operated smoothly, providing internet access to some schools. However, connectivity issues soon emerged, and many schools lost access.

A visit by The Fourth Estate to 50 schools in 2023 revealed that 48 of them had been without internet connection for several months. Numerous complaints to Busy Internet’s customer service went unresolved, causing frustration and anger among the schools.

The investigation raised further questions about how an unqualified company was selected as the sole-source candidate for such a significant government contract.

The original contract between Busy Internet and the Ministry of Education set the project cost at GHS84.4 million, with the Education Ministry also committed to a monthly recurrent cost of GHS6.4 million for maintaining internet connectivity in schools and educational offices.

This project aimed to fulfill a 2016 manifesto promise by the governing New Patriotic Party to provide free Wi-Fi coverage for senior secondary and tertiary institutions, enhancing learning, administration, and research capabilities.

As of February 2024, the contract with Busy Internet had connected over 1,000 institutions to the internet, although the effectiveness and sustainability of these connections remain in question.

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