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Telecoms, a key driver for development in Zimbabwe

09 Oct 2019 at 11:40hrs | Views
In view of a lack of liquidity and a falling currency in Zimbabwe, the telecoms sector is one of these that could drain significant revenues, if properly regulated. This requires the State to deploy appropriate technologies.

Like most African countries, Zimbabwe still relies on a self-declaratory system, which leaves loopholes - encouraging scams and fraudulent activities and robbing the country of vital revenue in the process. Without the tools to acquire sufficient visibility on telecommunications, Zimbabwean authorities cannot even measure the exact volume of telecom transactions that are subject to taxes and regulatory fees.

When it comes to international calls, for example, the country faces a double pitfall: a lack of visibility over the real volumes of calls exchanged between local operators and international carriers and the current licensing regime. In the first instance, companies based abroad are used to buy bandwidth internationally and to under-declare what they resell to telecoms operators in Zimbabwe. This means that part of the margin remains outside the country, thus depriving Zimbabwe of important amounts of revenue and inflating the calls leaving the country. In the second case, the licensing regime allows all the operators to have their own international gateways.

With regard to domestic calls, regulators are also facing a certain lack of transparency as to the MNOs profitability, since some crucial information regarding the quality of service, revenue and profitability are not always provided.

Proactive technological revenue-assurance solution

While a unified gateway - a single entry and exit point for all voice traffic - may allow for sufficient visibility on traffic, there is only one reliable and efficient way to achieve proper telecom metrics and meet the challenges and requirements of the new digital world. This is through a proactive technological revenue-assurance solution which enables both the operators and regulatory authorities to optimize the revenues from the telecommunications industry, control revenue leakage, reduce fraud on international calls and control the network quality and integrity.

These state-of-the-art technology solutions enable real data-driven regulation supported by highly effective systems that allow for the collection, consolidation and processing of all data relating to the sale of telecommunications products and services. Governments gain full visibility over the revenues generated by all the transactions related to mobile telecommunications in order to optimise the collection of surcharges, taxes, levies or any other contributions due to it.

Setting the country on the path towards growth

In 2013, Tanzania deployed a traffic monitoring system for telecommunications providing the authorities with a technological solution for the objective and transparent measurement and analysis of key aspects of the telecoms sector. Thanks to it, the State could earn a yearly additional revenue of about 12 M$, only with the independent measurement of incoming international calls. Rwanda is also capitalizing on ICTs: through technology, the regulator can audit and measure all telecoms traffic, with a focus on fraud management. Ghana also conducts similar operations through an interconnect clearinghouse, the objective of which is to provide transparent data on traffic volumes and ensure the accurate billing from MNOs. Using international incoming traffic information, it is now able to invoice mobile network operators accurately. The information also provides visibility over the regulatory fees and international incoming traffic surcharges.

Zimbabwean government could also benefit from such cutting-edge technologies and revenue assurance services - especially in the context of the Transitional Stabilization Program (TSP) initiated by the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which intends to make Zimbabwe a higher-middle-income country by 2030, partly thanks to digital economy.

The importance of independent measurement and transparency-enabling solutions in the telecommunications sector cannot be over-emphasized - it provides emerging countries with the means to set themselves solidly on the path to growth and development. These could be leveraged to provide significant amounts of revenue to the Zimbabwean government to invest in the country's socio-economic development. In this way, the full potential of the telecoms sector can be harnessed as an effective driving force for development. Zimbabwe must catch up now before the technology gap becomes too wide.

I look forward to hearing back.

Kind regards
Angela Collings

Source - Angela Collings
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