Free Wi-Fi saga: Over 750 SHSs, offices without internet since March 2024  

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At least 750 senior high schools and Ghana Education Service offices have been without internet connectivity since March 2024. Internet infrastructure, such as modems, was installed in the schools and offices as part of the government’s Wi-Fi for Schools project.

Following the publication of our findings, several sources have revealed that more than 750 schools have not had internet connectivity for much of this year.  This means more than three-quarters of schools and offices nationwide are without internet, even though the government has paid for connectivity. Sources say this is due to the failure of, Lifted Logistics, the company executing the GHS84 million contract, to pay its service providers.

The Wi-Fi contract was awarded to Busy Internet on a sole-source basis and later transferred to Lifted Logistics. An official of the Education Ministry told The Fourth Estate that the contract was sole-sourced because telecom giants like MTN, were wary of delays in government payments. But shortly after winning the contract, Busy Internet sub-contracted MTN, AirtelTigo, and Yahclick, a satellite service provider, to connect the over 1000 schools and offices as part of the contract. Yahclick deployed connections to more than 600 schools and offices while AirtelTigo connected about 180.

Sources say the failure of Busy Internet (and now, Lifted Logistics) to pay Yahclick, AirtelTigo, and other service providers for the past nine months is the cause of the prolonged internet outages the schools and offices have been experiencing.

The Ministry of Education in a statement released on June 3, 2024, stated that it was considering terminating aspects of the contracts in schools that are having connectivity challenges.

The Fourth Estate’s investigations revealed connectivity in some of the schools initially. They however started losing connectivity one after another not long thereafter. Most schools lamented that complaints to Busy Internet/Lifted Logistics’s customer service unit were not addressed, leaving them frustrated and angry. The schools include Labone SHS and Accra Academy, which now uses private internet paid for by its old students association.

Even though the Ministry of Education’s records submitted to parliament said they paid GHC56 million to Lifted Logistics in 2023 for services it supposedly rendered, a leaked report by the Economic and Organised Crime Office suggests that between December 30, 2019, and December 19, 2022, the ministry paid GHC63.7 million to the company.

The Fourth Estate’s investigation has also revealed that the Busy Internet owed millions of cedis in unpaid taxes and social security contributions, so it could not have had tax and SSNIT clearance certificates, two mandatory requirements for any company bidding for a government contract. Despite these, Busy Internet was not only able to secure the multi-million cedi government contract; it was awarded the contract on a sole-sourcing arrangement.

A court document available to The Fourth Estate showed that SSNIT sued Busy Internet in 2021 for the company’s failure to pay GHS1,277,902.77 of its workers’ contributions between December 2018 and 2021. SSNIT also wanted the company to pay GHS951,075.32 in penalties for the failure to pay SSNIT as of July 2020, eight months after it won the contract.

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