Zambia hints at fifth telco operator

A fifth telco
for Zambia?

Enough room says
industry regulator.

Sunday, Feb 23rd

'Pay up or get out'

Ghana

Ghana’s National Communication Authority (NCA) has hinted that in the next three months it has plans to carry out revenue assurance audits of all the monthly call data reports (CDR) of the country’s six telecom companies.

The director of regulatory administration at the NCA, Joshua Peprah, said that this is to ensure the accurate monitoring of call statistics in the country.

Peprah said the government raised $64 million last year from taxing telecom operators. But the state is concerned that it is not getting its full share, and the NCA has threatened operators to pay up or risk losing their licences.

“We are working with a consultant over a three-year period and the analysis we have done so far indicates that over the three years the state can make $200 million in taxes from inbound international calls,” said Peprah.

“So we are very serious with the audit – and if the records a telco presents does not tally with our audit records the respective telco is in trouble,” Peprah added.

The government is reliant on telcos to inform them of their revenue results, as operators have rejected an NCA bid to install international gateway monitoring equipment on their switches.

“We had wanted to monitor and know the number of minutes in real time by ourselves instead of giving the operator a whole month to collate records and tell us what they want,” Peprah said.

The matter of monitoring phone calls has gone as far as being heard in the country’s courts, as telcos have alleged that the government could interfere with the privacy of their customers and even affect the quality of network service.

However, Peprah said this argument was like asking importers to declare their goods at the ports but asking customs not to check the goods and verify whether they matched what was declared on paper to secure revenue for the state.

He said while that matter was yet to be determined by the courts, the NCA was preparing a thorough audit of the monthly records that the telcos gave to the authority, and compare them with what results the auditors may find.

Responding to the NCA's announcements, the chief executive of Ghana’s Chamber of Telecommunications, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, said integrity was a cherished value among all the multinational telcos in Ghana, and that they had systems and measures in place to monitor revenues made from calls.

Vodafone Ghana’s revenue assurance and risk manager, Ashley Radcliffe, added that Vodafone has invested millions of dollars in systems to ensure quality of service and protection of customer privacy, as well as strict monitoring and reporting of all of its activities.

He said the company was not ready to take onboard additional monitoring equipment which could interfere with the quality of service and privacy of its customers.

“As far as we are concerned, we check the number of minutes of international calls at several and various levels to ensure they are absolutely accurate before we present them to the NCA so we are not perturbed by any audit to be carried out by the regulator,” he said.

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