(1) What is the Common Platform?
The Common Platform (CP) is an integrated single platform established by the Ministries of Communications and Finance for the regulatory, fiscal and financial oversight of the telecom industry.
(2) Why do we need a Common Platform?
The Common Platform provides the Government of Ghana an independent view of telecommunications transactions statistics. It deepens the capacity for verification and validation of telecommunications transactions statistics.
(3) What specific and additional benefits does the Common Platform afford?
With its much wider scope, the CP provides real-time telecom data and visibility of the evolving Mobile Money ecosystem. It also brings with it revenue verification and fraud management capabilities, thus providing greater transparency in the telecommunications sector
(4) Which government agencies would be the primary users/beneficiaries of the Common Platform?
The National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) are the primary users/beneficiaries of the Common Platform.
(5) What is the legal basis for the Common Platform?
The Communications Service Tax (Amendment) Act, 2013, Act 864 (which amends s.14 of Act 754) enjoins the Minister of Finance to collaborate with the Minister of Communications to:
a) establish a mechanism to verify the actual revenue that accrues to vendors for the purpose of computing taxes due the Government under this Act;
b) be given physical access to the network nodes of the vendors’ networks at an equivalent point in the network where the providers’ billing systems are connected; and,
c) ensure that a Common Platform is used for the purpose of verifying revenues under the Act as well as revenues accruing from levies under the Electronic Communications Act 2009, Act 775.
(6) Which entity is going to implement the Common Platform?
The Common Platform is to be implemented by KelniGVG Limited, a vendor whose services have been retained by the National Communications Authority for that purpose.
(7) Is KelniGVG a foreign company?
KelniGVG is not a foreign company.
Kelni is a Ghanaian company incorporated in 1995, with experience in electronic engineering, IT solutions and systems and other related areas.
Kelni entered into a Joint Venture with GVG to form KelniGVG, a Ghanaian Company. The JV is informed by GVG’s over 20 years of cognitive experience in the telecom revenue assurance and IT solutions sector.
The Global Voice Group (GVG) was founded in 1998 and brings with it nearly 20 years of industry experience in telecom data mining, revenue mobilization and fraud management solutions. An internationally recognized leader in its core business, GVG has implemented similar solutions in several other African countries, including Rwanda, Congo-Brazzaville, Senegal, Uganda, Guinea, Liberia, Togo and the Central African Republic.
GVG has been selected by Smart Africa (an African Union initiative) to establish a roaming and traffic exchange platform across Africa. This is the Africa Regional Traffic Exchange and Financial Settlement (ARTEF) Platform.
KelniGVG leverages GVG’s institutional knowledge and global expertise.
(8) What are the parameters of the engagement of the Vendor?
The Vendor is engaged on a Build, Operate, Manage and Transfer basis.
(9) Why a five (5) year engagement?
The tenure of the engagement is consistent with industry standards.
Given that the initial investment is high, investments on this scale require that the term enables the investor recoup their investment.
The contract period will allow for adequate knowledge transfer to the user agencies (the NCA and the GRA) for when they take over the entire operations at the end of the transfer period.
(10) Does the contract allow for continuous evaluation to assure that it remains fit for purpose?
Yes, it does. The Common Platform installation will be evaluated on a regular basis to ascertain whether it continues to meet the deliverables underpinning it.
(11) What happens to the installed equipment at the end of the contract term?
At the end of the contract term the installed equipment remains in place. The equipment must be upgraded with the latest hardware and software versions in the fifth (last) year of the contract period At that time, the equipment shall be upgraded to current specifications.
(12) Where is the equipment installed?
The equipment is installed at the network operating centre (NOC), which is housed at the National Communications Authority (NCA).
Non-intrusive, passive and secure data collection equipment will also be installed at each operator’s site.
(13) What is the capability of the Common Platform with regard to traffic measurement?
The Common Platform provides on a real-time basis, accurate measurement of the following types of traffic:
- volume of international incoming traffic terminated in Ghana;
- volume of international outgoing traffic originated from Ghana;
- domestic (On-net and Off-net) voice traffic in Ghana;
It generates daily, monthly, quarterly and annual statistics on international incoming and outgoing traffic volumes, classifying the volumes by operators and carrier links.
It also generates daily, monthly, quarterly and annual statistics on local on-net and off-net traffic volumes, classifying the volumes by operators.
This traffic monitoring capability enables the comprehensive and accurate billing of the government’s share of international incoming traffic termination, which is 32% of the Termination Base/floor Rate.
(14) What is the capability of the Common Platform with regard to Revenue Assurance?
The Common Platform is able to monitor the amounts of revenue generated by both mobile and fixed network operators.
It generates monthly, quarterly and annual statistics on revenue accrued from telecommunications services based on:
i. Prepaid services (SMS, voice, data)
ii. Post-paid services (SMS, voice, data)
iii. Value added services
iv. Wholesale services
v. Other telecommunications services
(15) What is the capability of the Common Platform with regard to Mobile Money transactions?
At a minimum, the Common Platform is able to capture mobile money transaction data to establish the total value of authorised e-money in the market and consequently, the fees that accrue to each operator on a monthly basis.
It also provides detailed and comprehensive statistics on mobile money transactions, including but not limited to:
i. Cash in
ii. Cash out
iii. Fees associated with transactions
iv. Peer-to-peer transfers
v. Total volume of transactions by operators
vi. Total value of transactions by operators
This data is deliverable on a daily, monthly, quarterly and annual basis, as required.
(16) Is traffic measurement and collection of data done on a real-time basis?
Yes, it is. This is the first time data collection and traffic measurement will be done independently and on a real-time basis in Ghana.
(17) What is the capability of the Common Platform with regard to Fraud Management?
Detection, blocking and tracking!
The capabilities of the Common Platform with regard to Fraud Management commences with the tracking of international call terminations on a test basis. This enables detection of the by-passing of legally declared routes for international traffic into Ghana, and enables the blocking off of such numbers, and tracking of related SIM Boxes involved in the fraudulent activities.
Additionally, detectable by-pass calls include international public switch telephone network (PSTN) calls terminating on an over-the-top (OTT) voice application such as Viber.
The CP is able to localize suspicious and/or fraudulent SIM and other equipment, using available information from the operators (including by-pass traffic information and other network elements) to search for and locate illegal SIM-Box operators.
It also provides statistics on a daily, monthly, quarterly and annual basis.
(18) What is Personal Data on the Common Platform
There is no Personal Data on the CP. The CP does not have the capability to match numbers with names/real persons.
The operations of the Common Platform conform to Ghana’s Data Protection Act
2012 (Act 843).
The CP does not have the capability to listen to the calls or read the SMS contents of mobile users.
The Common Platform equipment is signaling based. It collects the required information to rebuild necessary telecommunications statistics from what we call “signaling” in the telecommunications industry. Signaling is a management or controlled information, exchanged between telecommunications nodes before, during and after any communication on the network. A signal only contains the statistics of the communication. It is carried on a channel that is independent of the communication channel carrying the voice content.
The Common Platform does not have any access to the content of a communication.
(19) How Does the CP benefit consumers?
The CP will bring direct benefits to the consumer in many respects. These include:
(i) The tracking and elimination of fraudulent traffic; in this way the CP makes networks more secure for everyone;
(ii) The elimination of fraudulent traffic also improves the quality of service on international calls. Calls going through illegal routes are of poor quality due to the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) compression methods used by fraudsters;
(iii)The enablement of a more proactive approach to consumer protection, as its purview is not based on after-the-fact complaints management alone, but on real-time data collected and analyzed by the NCA.
The exact same benefits as described for Mobile Money subscribers, bringing more security, reliability and transparency into the Mobile Money sector.