After successful stints in revenue monitoring and fraud management in Ghana and Guinea, Subah Infosolutions is set to start operations in Sierra Leone.
This bringing to three the number of African countries the indigenous technology company is showcasing its superior audit technology.
The new deal in the West African country, signed on October 25 last year gives Subah the mandate to scrutinise the revenue reports of the four telecoms operators in Sierra Leone – Africell, Airtel, Sierratel and Smart Telecoms – and also fight the growing cases of Simbox fraud.
“We are deploying an advanced form of the technology we deployed for Ghana in Sierra Leone. In Sierra Leone, the law allows us to do a few more things more creative than was permitted in Ghana so we are anticipating that the success rate in Sierra Leone would even be higher” said Redeemer Kwame, Director of Subah Infosolutions.
Subah’s work is expected to increase revenue for the Sierra Leonean government by between 20 and 25 percent annually – that is from the current $4 million reported annually by the telcos to about $6 million.
“Our aim is to bring an independent opinion on the revenue report that will be generated by the telecom operators,” the Subah Director added.
Subah’s Revenue Monitoring Assurance and Audit (RMA) system ensures that government and other state agencies get hold of the taxes they are entitled to.
The RMA is a rigorous system that enables tax authorities to accelerate tax collection via a distributed and scalable multi-threaded architecture configuration that supports multi-vendor and technology networks.
Extent of work
Since December last year, Subah Infosolutions has been moving critical equipment to Sierra Leone and renovating an old government building to make way for the now complete state of the art data centre that will be the head office of its operations.
The data centre, located in the quiet town of Aberdeen, has been furnished with power plants, large screen monitors for live data streaming, among others.
Redeemer Kwame reveals that while waiting for renovations to be completed Subah had taken steps to start the installation of the critical equipment at the operator locations in a bid to speed up the process.
“As at January 2017, we had completed installation of equipment at the operator locations”, he said, adding that the only thing needed for the full flight of the five-year revenue monitoring and fraud management deal is to establish connectivity between the operators and the data centre.
“In Sierra Leone, we rely a lot on generators so we have brand new generators on site to take care of power supply; we have an Uninterrupted Power Supply System for constant and consistent power supply.
“What is left for us to do is to collect samples of call detail records (CDRs) and be able to configure the logic into our monitoring software to identify which is revenue and which is not so that [the system] can process and report the revenue. And to do that we needed to engage the operators one-on-one,” Kwame Redeemer said.
The cooperation of the four telcos for the revenue monitoring and audit has been favourable as engagements with Airtel and Africell, the two biggest operators, have been completed.
Redeemer says Subah will test run the monitoring system and share the report with the operators. “We [telcos and Subah] will agree that they are correct and from then on nobody touches the system,” he said.
Subah’s investments in Sierra Leone beat those for Ghana and Guinea. So far investment is heading towards $8 million, about a million dollars more than Subah invested in Ghana and 500,000 more than it did in Guinea. The investments in Sierra Leone are a bit higher than in Ghana and Guinea because of the different terrains and the different economies. Cost of living in Sierra Leone is relatively higher.
“It is quite a very tight margin but we are interested in doing it because the Government of Sierra Leone has reposed their trust in us and I think being an African company expanding beyond the shores of Ghana, we shouldn’t only be driven by profits but also to show what we are capable of doing. That in it can sell us to other parts of Africa,” said Redeemer.
The National Telecommunications Commission of Sierra Leone (NATCOM) wants Subah to prove to the country’s citizens that the decision to bring them on board was a good one.
A Commissioner at NATCOM, Frank Manja, says having seen the work of the Ghanaian company in Ghana and Guinea, he is hopeful Subah will live up to expectations.
“To me, have enjoyed the collaboration in partnering with Subah so we are expecting a whole lot. We at the Commission are expecting a lot from Subah because we want to let people know that the decision we made was the right one,” he said.
The Chair of the country’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, Baikurr Kanagbaro Sanka III, has promised to push for a constant security presence at Subah’s data centre to forestall any possible attack by unscrupulous persons, especially Simbox fraudsters, who may see Subah’s work as a hindrance.
Challenges and Way Forward
Apart from the country’s erratic power supply and less-than-reliable internet connectivity, Subah faces some level of climatic challenge in delivering on its mandate.
It rains a lot in the country, and because Subah will be relying on radio links for transfer of critical data, heavy rains could disrupt this effort. However, a team of Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean technicians have found a way around the challenge.
“We have built some backup systems into the radio links to ensure that no matter how bad the rains are, the links will not fail.
“What we have also done smartly, is to establish platforms and systems at the offices of the operator locations to do the major processing of the data at those locations and only send summary reports to the data centre,” Redeemer Kwame explains.
This means that should the links fail the important information will still be resident at the operator location, and as soon as the links come online again, the data centre will receive the relevant data that may have been truncated due to disruptions by the heavy rains.
It is expected that in the next few days, full operations will commence.