Following a series of threats, consultations and modifications to the original tech specifications, Ghana's communication ministry has confirmed government's intention to implement the common telecoms revenue monitoring platform.
In December 2017, the country's communication and finance ministries awarded a US$89 million contract to local network management and telecom service provider KelniGVG to build, operate and manage a common telecoms revenue monitoring platform
The contract includes establishing a Network Operating Centre, the installation of GSM Gateways for anti-fraud management on international inbound traffic, and Telecom Traffic Monitoring System (TTMS) that integrates all the tools required to independently verify, measure and analyse the different types of traffic going through the telecommunication networks.
In addition to the cost of the contract, KelniGVG will also receive a monthly payment of US$1.5 million for 5 years and its service could also be automatically renewed.
The firm has set up a similar system for regulators in Liberia, Rwanda, Senegal and DRC.
Until now, tax officials in Ghana relied on declarations made by operators upon submission of their Call Data Records (CDRs) to the National Communications Authority (NCA). However, the government claims the CDRs could be manipulated to show lower call traffic volumes and result in lower tax payment.
Comply or be sanctioned
Operators initially ignored a threat by the communications ministry to comply or be sanctioned, and link up with the platform, citing concern over the architectural design of the servers to be installed. They argued the infrastructure could compromise the privacy of their subscriber's data.
However, the ministry has since confirmed it had made necessary changes and all operators are in line with the initiative.
Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said a filtering server and mirroring installation have been included to ensure that the NCA and GRA (Ghana Revenue Authority) will only receive information required for the purposes of traffic monitoring.
"No other information – voice, SMS, video or data, will be received by KelniGVG servers," she said.
However, Franklin Cudjoe, President of Ghana's policy think tank IMANI Africa described the deal as "fraudulent" and urged that it be cancelled, as well as a full investigation into the matter and the removal of the Minister.
In response the Minister said: "President Akufo-Addo, who appointed me, is satisfied that the deal is in the interest of Ghana... he wants to ensure that we get the right tax from the telcos."