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Ghanaian tech firm to manage International Gateway in Sierra Leone

By , ITWeb
Sierra Leone , 01 Nov 2016

Ghanaian tech firm to manage International Gateway in Sierra Leone

Though it was the only African tech company among the 12 bidders, Ghana's Subah Infosolutions has signed a contract to manage the International Gateway Monitoring System in Sierra Leone having been announced the winner of the process by the country's telecom regulatory body, NATCOM.

The Ghanaian company has monitored telecoms operators' revenue flow in Ghana for five years before its contract extension ended in May 2016. It also has a similar contract in Guinea.

According to the published description of the bid, Subah Infosolutions (one of the four companies that earlier this year participated in- and lost a bid for the monopoly interconnect clearing house license by the National Communications Authority in Ghana), will be expected to mainly track all billing and revenue assurance data of local and international voice and data traffic in Sierra Leone and handle on call minutes within Voice over IP (VoIP) calls.

Subah Infosolutions is also expected to mitigate and/or eliminate/block the illegal bypassing of international communication voice and data traffic into Sierra Leone known mainly as SIM box fraud, which is very common in parts of West Africa.

SIM box fraud entails using two rigged phones on different networks to ensure that calls are routed to make them appear as starting and ending on one network to avoid paying interconnect fees.

Managing the gateway system in Sierra Leone has been an issue of disagreement between the government, operators and the World Bank.

The government had agreed to liberalise the International Gateway in 2011 when the Bank funded the regional West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (WARCIP) project that made the landing of the Africa Coast to Europe fibre optic possible.

However the Bank was displeased that the project's purpose to reduce call tariffs and internet accessibility in the consortium's participating countries was not achieved in Sierra Leone because of the claim the country's leadership did not fulfill its commitment.

The liberalisation did not happen until 2016 when the national carrier, Sierratel, which has been the monopolised manager of the gateway since 2006 through its agent Teltac, had to give up the control.

That was after the Bank initially suspended its support for Sierra Leone's participation in the WARCIP project in March 2014, but later lifted the suspension to monitor the implementation of certain benchmarks.

Though a former Communications Minister said the government made between US$15m and US$20m annually from the monopoly with Sierratel, the monitoring of the gateway became ineffective after the Sierratel/Teltac's contract was eventually scrapped in April 2016 for a Multiple Gateways System by NATCOM.

Subah Infosolutions will take it from this point where reports say the lack of a proper monitoring mechanism has resulted in approximately US$1m per month in lost revenue.

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