FACT-CHECK: Has Gov’t provided free WiFi for over 700 SHSs?

On Thursday, April 7, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawmia delivered the much-anticipated lecture on Ghana’s economy.

One of the claims the Veep made at the lecture was that the government had provided free WiFi for students at the Senior High School as part of the government’s digitization agenda.

“For the first time in our history, Government has provided Free WiFi to over 700 senior high schools, 42 colleges of education and 13 public universities,” Dr Bawumia said.

Dr Bawumia delivered the much-anticipated lecture on Ghana’s economy on April 7, 2022

That was not the first time the Veep made this claim. The Vice President has since 2020 repeated the claim about the NPP government providing free WiFi for some educational institutions.

On September 30, 2020, ahead of the general elections, Dr Bawumia said at least 80% of all SHSs in Ghana had been provided with free WiFi. He made the claim in an interview on Accra-based Asempa FM.

“We promised to provide free Wi-fi to our secondary schools and, thankfully, the Education Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, and the Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, have worked very hard on this. I really salute them for this. At least 80% of all our Senior High Schools have now been connected to free Wi-fi. That is the data we have,” the Veep said.

About a year later, in November 2021, Dr Bawumia said 710 SHSs had benefited from the free WiFi project. He made the claim at the 60th anniversary speech and prize-giving day of Navrongo Senior High School (Navasco).

This year, before the April-7 economic lecture, Dr Bawumia had already referenced the free WiFi project in his public engagements. He repeated the claim at the launch of an integrated online learning (e-learning) programme, which, according to the government, is to deliver courses for the youth and professionals covering artisanal, entrepreneurship, and technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

Government’s promise to provide free WiFi

The initiative to provide schools with Wi-Fi was at the heart of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) educational policy that brought them into power in 2016. The promise was captured on page 32 of the 2016 manifesto of the NPP.

“Collaboration with the private sector, provide free WiFi coverage for senior secondary and tertiary institutions nationwide dedicated to learning, administration and enhancing the capacity to do research,” the manifesto stated.

In the 2020 manifesto, the party reported that contracts had been awarded for the project to be completed. The 2020 manifesto put the total number of Senior High Schools in Ghana at 722.

“Contract awarded to provide free Wi-Fi connectivity to all 722 SHSs, 46 Colleges of Education (CoEs), 16 Regional Offices, and 260 District Education Offices,” NPP’s 2020 manifesto stated on page 57.

Fact-checking the claims

Using the Right to Information law, Fact-Check Ghana wrote to the Ghana Education Service requesting the number and list of schools that are beneficiaries of the free WiFi project.

According to the GES, as of March 10, 2022, the free WiFi project had been completed in 663 Senior High, Technical, and Vocational Schools. The data indicates at the end of 2020, 523 (79%) of the 663 schools had been connected to the WiFi. The remaining beneficiary schools received the government WiFi in 2021.

Thus, Dr Bawumia’s claim, which he has been repeating since 2021, that the free WiFi project has been completed in over 700 schools is therefore inaccurate. The Veep’s claim is inconsistent with data from the GES.

Below is a regional breakdown of the number of beneficiary schools. The data was presented in the old ten administrative regions.

Region Number of Schools
Ashanti 100
Brong Ahafo 80
Central 75
Eastern 94
Greater Accra 49
Western 53
Volta 87
Northern 55
Upper East 37
Upper West 33
Total 663

Source: GES

Had 80% of the SHSs been connected to WiFi as of 2020?

Dr Bawumia said, as of September 2020, government had connected 80% of SHSs in Ghana to WiFi. However, according to data from the GES, the claim is inaccurate.

GES indicates that the total number of Senior high/technical vocational schools in Ghana at the end of 2020 was 724; 80% of the number is 579 schools. But the data the GES submitted to Fact-check Ghana indicate that at the end of 2020 it was rather 523 schools that had been connected.

In conclusion, 663 Senior High Schools (SHSs) had benefitted from the government’s free WiFi project as of March 10, 2022, according to the GES. This makes Dr Bawumia’s claim, which he has been repeating since 2021, that over 700 SHSs have been connected to the WiFI inaccurate.

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