How to Mangle a Revenue Assurance Story

There is no other way to say it – this site provides a perfect example of how not to write about implementation of a revenue assurance system. The screaming headline “Safaricom changes strategy to curb fraud” is very enticing but once you start reading the article, you realise the content and headline are mismatched. The author simply has no clue what he is talking about. Let us not even bother with the debate of what constitutes revenue assurance and what is fraud. It will be exasperating.  Take this snippet for example:

Safaricom, Kenya’s most profitable company, sacked 52 employees suspected of involvement in fraud in the year ended March 2017. The number was 16 more than the 36 it sent home the previous year.

Is that good or bad? What bearing does it have on the matter at hand? Perhaps the author intends this to be seen as some  statistics proving worsening of things at Safaricom, thus pushing the company to implement a revenue assurance system? Maybe the author thinks that internal fraud is wholly detected via revenue assurance systems? Even if that were the case, one could still choose to see investing in such a system as evidence of proactive approach consistent across the years. If Safaricom needs to fire 200 people because of fraud, from the history it has set, it looks like the company would not be loath to do so – and that must be lauded.

If the author had taken time to contact Safaricom and/or research just a bit (instead of relying on a press release that he clearly did not understand), he would have realised that Safaricom already has a strong assurance program and has been running it for a long time.

I see neither correlation nor causation in the two matters i.e.

  • Firing fraudulent employees and reporting the statistics (2016, 2017)
  • Deploying a system for revenue assurance (2018), which, by the way, would not be a first-time implementation. This system implementation is, in all likelihood, a replacement of another system that has been in use.

The sacking of 52 employees and publishing this in the dailies (and in the annual sustainability report) was an act of courage in a region and industry that routinely treats such matters in a hushed manner. I know folks in the banking sector and telecommunications who know their companies are being routinely hit by fraudsters but these matters are never disclosed publicly. The 52 fraudsters were not caught because of lack of a good strategy. I would wager there are big companies with more rot yet don’t have the capacity or will to clean it.

This brings me to a topic that is dear to my heart. I have argued with my compatriots in the African space about the self-censorship that we place on ourselves when it comes to publishing and commenting on what we are doing in our places of employment. We need to take charge of the narrative otherwise these half-baked pieces will continue being churned out. Imagine if this had been written by a person who knows the inner workings of a telco?

My fellow Africans, imagine no more. Start doing.

Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu is a director at Integrated Risk Services Ltd and specializes in revenue assurance. He previously worked as Head of Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management at Vodacom's operation in Tanzania, having previously served in the same role at Vodacom Mozambique.

Before his work with Vodacom, Joseph was an internal audit manager for Airtel, with responsibility that covered their 17 countries in Africa. Whilst at Airtel, Joseph led reviews of the Revenue Assurance, Customer Service and Sales & Marketing functions.

Prior to his stint at Airtel, Joseph was an RA manager at Safaricom in Kenya. He holds an MSc Degree in Information Systems.