Why TCRA control of telecom monitoring system crucial

Saturday January 19 2019

President John Magufuli waves as he leaves

President John Magufuli waves as he leaves Mawasiliano Towers in Dar es Salaam yesterday. He is flanked by the minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Phillip Mpango (second left), the minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Mr Isack Kamwelwe (third right), and Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority director general James Kilaba (second right). The Head of State officiated at the Telecom Traffic Monitoring System hand-over ceremony yesterday.  PHOTO | ANTHONY SIAME 

By John Namkwahe @johnteck3 jnamkwahe@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Government revenue collections from the telecommunications sector are set for a major boost after the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) took full control of the Telecom Traffic Monitoring System (TTMS).

TTMS is an advanced telecommunications traffic monitoring system that is specifically designed to provide governments and telecom institutions with comprehensive, real-time visibility over the whole of the interconnection traffic handled by local operators and international carriers.

The equipment, which was formally handed over to TCRA at a high-profile event in Dar es Salaam yesterday, has several components, including a billing facility for international calls traffic entering Tanzania, as well for detection and elimination of international communications by-pass fraud.

The system has been operational since October 2013, and its successful installation and implementation is not only a revolution but is also one of the greatest achievements for the country’s communications sector.

The director general of TCRA, Mr James Kilaba, revealed at the brief ceremony that the Authority was able to collect over Sh93 billion in public revenues in the five years since the system was first put in place to monitor incoming international calls.

Further highlighting the benefits of the new regulatory system, the director general said it has enabled the telecoms institutions in Tanzania to effectively curb theft of mobile communication devices and counterfeiting, as well closely monitor mobile money transactions.

Mr Kilaba said all that at the ceremony in which TCRA officially acquired full ownership of the monitoring system from the consortium of developers and contractors, namely SGS and Global Voice Group (GVG), operating under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model.

The handover ceremony held at the TCRA headquarters in Dar es Salaam was graced by President John Magufuli, accompanied by top government officials, religious leaders, development partners and other stakeholders.

Revealing that it was very difficult to exactly determine the volume and density of international calls traffic before the TTMS was installed, the director general said dishonest people easily took advantage of the loophole to make illegal calls, thus denying the government its rightful revenues.

Following installation and operationalisation of the TTMS project, TCRA has seen an increase in mobile money transactions from Sh8.5 trillion per month recorded in 2007 to Sh11.6 trillion last year.

Also, international communication by-pass fraud declined from 65-to-10 per cent during the same period.

“At least 224 million online content operators have already been registered and provided with licences. I, therefore, encourage the operators to adhere to the existing regulatory provisions,” the TCRA chief said.

Speaking during the event, the minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Mr Isaack Kamwelwe, said “there has been rapid growth of mobile telephony in Tanzania. Over 42 million SIM cards were registered last year, compared to 39 million in 2015.”

Addressing the participants at the event, President Magufuli hailed the TCRA board and management – as well as the relevant ministries – for the achievement.

He expressed optimism that the communications sector, using the TTMS facility, would enable other public institutions – such as the Tanzania Revenue Authority – to more effectively collect revenues and ascertain financial reports of the telecommunication companies operating in the country.

President Magufuli took the opportunity to remind the minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Phillip Mpango, to ensure that all public institutions are connected to the Government e-Payment Gateway (GePG) system. This is with a view to promoting transparency and accountability – and improving revenues collections.

“Only 339 out of the 667 public institutions have been connected to the GePG. I want all the institutions to be connected as soon as possible,” President Magufuli directed the Finance minister.