R1.3bn spent on Gauteng Online
According to the provincial government, the total budget for the initiative which was first announced in 2000, is R2 billion over a five year period.
Since the project was first introduced there have been contradicting reports on its success – as well as reports revealing millions in losses from theft and poor Internet connectivity at schools across the province.
Despite contradicting numbers over the years, the provincial government says its focus will now be on building 637 computer labs – bringing the number of labs successfully installed labs to 2 199, which it says is the complete scope of the project.
In July 2011, the Gauteng Department of Finance stated it would complete 595 outstanding labs within the 2011/12 financial year.
In October 2009, the provincial government said 1170 iLabs had been completed. In December 2009, this number was reported to be 1509. However, according to a report by the auditor general released in December 2010, only 1455 labs had been completed.
The Gauteng Online schools project is a provincial project to build iLabs in schools and provide learners and teachers with connectivity. The project aims to improve the quality of education in the province by using Internet and e-mail to improve curriculum delivery in schools.
Now the provincial government says more than 708 000 learners and 38 000 educators used the Gauteng Online network every day. A total of 1 492 labs have been converted into Open Source. A total of 9 mobile labs with satellite dish mounted on the roof and capable of providing Internet access, 19 computer workstations, with an on-board generator and air conditioner have also been deployed.
“Since 2009 in particular we have tightened our monitoring mechanisms on this project and have been insisting on performance from SMMT and accountability in line with the Service Level Agreement. We are also assessing return on investment on GautengOnline Programme to realise project value. This is an important exercise for us to determine value for money from this project,” the provincial government stated.
At inception, an initial allocation of R500 million was made to the project for the construction of the computer network. Another R100 million was set aside to speed up the implementation of the project in 2005 in an attempt to meet a 2006 deadline.
This was never met and extended to the next year, until the project was put out to tender.
In December 2007, the SMMT Online consortium was announced as the winning bidder for the Gauteng Online tender.
The provincial government added that once the G-Link is fully functional, GautengOnline will become one of the Provincial Government’s e-services that will be offered through the broadband technology platform.
“The project entails the establishment of a single technology platform for the provision of broadband networking in Gauteng for enhancing the provincial economy, provision of government services and for improving network access and connectivity throughout the province.”