GHS84m Free Wi-Fi Deal: Committee on Education in Parliament to demand accountability from Education Ministry

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The Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South, Dr Clement Apaak, has said that the Committee on Education in Parliament will soon begin processes to demand accountability from the Education Ministry concerning the government’s project to provide internet connectivity to senior high schools.

Dr Apaak, Deputy Ranking Member on the Committee on Education, said parliament was left in the dark on the free Wi-Fi project in which a contract was signed between the government and Busy Internet in 2019.

In an interview with Joy FM, he said the contract was not even presented to the Committee for discussions and approval as required by law. It has since emerged, after investigations by The Fourth Estate, that most senior high schools in the country are without internet connectivity. However, at least GHS56 million have been paid to Busy Internet (now defunct) and its successor, Lifted Logistics.

“It is not acceptable that the taxpayers’ money will be given to a company to provide a service that is not being provided and yet the company is paid monthly,” he said in an interview on Joy FM.

The Fourth Estate investigations also revealed that despite Busy Internet’s ineligibility to bid for government contracts, it was awarded the GHS84 million deal on a single source basis. The government was also to pay the company GHS6.3 million every month for internet services for the next five years.

In May 2023, the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) approved an increment in the monthly recurrent expenditure from GHS6.3 million to GHS11.5 million. The PPA also transferred the contract from Busy Internet to Lifted Logistics which was not a licensed internet service provider at the time.

Busy Internet owed the state GHS17 million in taxes and Social Security and National Insurance Trust payments from December 2018 to 2022, according to a leaked report by the Economic and Organised Crime Office.

The Fourth Estate’s investigation further showed that Busy Internet received GHS63.7 million between 2020 and 2022 and an additional GHS56 million between January and September 2023, for its services.

While these payments were being made most of the senior high schools were without internet, but payment was made for them.

The Education Ministry has, meanwhile, said it is considering terminating parts of the contract with Busy Internet/Lifted Logistics because the company has failed to provide services to many senior high schools across the country.

The Builsa South MP said he had pursued the Minister for Education since 2021 with a series of questions on the free Wi-Fi project but the minister has failed to respond.

 

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