Gambia Seeks National RA Deal Despite Controversies

Gambian Information Minister Ebrima Sillah (pictured) recently confirmed that his government is pressing ahead with purchasing a tool to monitor revenues for traffic through the country’s international gateway. Foroyaa quotes him as telling the National Assembly that:

“The new tool will help us know the amount of revenue made on phone calls and text messages without having to rely on the operators to do so.”

When asked about data protection, Sillah insisted there was “no risk” of the technology being used to invade the privacy of phone users.

The Gambia is following the pattern of governments in developing countries spending on technology and audits to verify the revenues of telcos, although none have presented evidence which shows they collected more tax as a consequence. On the contrary, these national revenue assurance deals are typically mired in controversy. Memorable debacles include:

There have also been relevant accusations of corruption in The Gambia. In 2018 The Point reported that a government minister had asserted there had been fraud in the management of the international gateway. At least six different firms have been contracted to run the gateway during its history, including GVG. Commsrisk’s Joseph Nderitu highlighted the obvious inference of one of those firms being willing to pay USD1.3mn per month for unnamed ‘special projects’ on behalf of the government.

A string of developing countries have built up a mythology around international voice traffic and national telecoms revenue assurance programs. Ordinary citizens are told they will benefit by ensuring all taxes are collected from telcos. But there is scant evidence of any of these audits or monitoring systems delivering any value, whilst there are plenty of signs that the contracts are used to enrich a chosen few at the expense of everyone else.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.