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Education Minister to be hauled to parliament over GH¢84m free Wi-Fi deal

A Deputy Ranking Member of Parliament’s Education Committee, Dr Clement Apaak has disclosed that steps would be taken to summon the Education Minister Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum to Parliament regarding the free Wi-Fi to Senior High Schools(SHS).

Minority MPs are demanding that the Minister addresses unresolved questions about the free Wi-Fi contract.

Speaking on the Super Morning Show on Monday, June 10, Dr Clement Apaak said the Minister will be brought before the plenary if he fails to appear before the Committee.

Dr Apaak revealed that he has been pursuing the Minister for answers about this deal for three years without success. He emphasised the urgency of resolving the matter and the need for transparency in the Minister’s dealings.

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

He stressed that the Minister’s prolonged avoidance of the issue has only heightened the need for a thorough investigation.

“When we resume tomorrow [Tuesday], I will speak to my leadership and I believe the committee of education now has a justifiable basis to wheel in the minister to respond to these questions before the committee and if he refuses to do so, then, we will have no choice than to file a motion to the speaker asking for him to be brought to answer the questions that I posed that he should have answered two-three years ago,” he said.

About the contract

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

The investigation highlighted that Busy Internet was chosen 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 the major players were not interested 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 functioned well, providing internet access to some schools. However, connectivity issues soon arose, 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, leading to 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 fulfil 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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