Ghana on Monday unveiled a new data centre with a system supposed to monitor the operations of telecommunication companies operating in the country.
The newly unveiled open data centre, called the common platform, will now enabled the state agency the National Communications Authority to plug into the systems of telecom companies to verify their operations.
The government said the priority is to help accurately check the revenue these companies make and properly tax them.
Edmund Fianko, deputy director, in charge of engineering at the communication authority explained further that the common platform should help monitor call traffic, revenue accruing to the state from calls and other telecom services.
In the past the government depended on data provided by these telecommunication companies but Fianko says that changes with this new centre.
“The law says that the common platform should verify the actual revenues that accrue to government. In the past we have just trusted but now we can independently verify so we have systems connected to the operator data centres and it gives us very raw data which is processed and enables us to be able to know the volume of traffic that has passed and what revenue has accrued on account of the communication services that are being delivered in the country,” Fianko said.
There have been initial concerns about this centre and the cost involved in setting it up. Operated by a local company called Kelni GVG, Ghana’s government will be spending over $74 million dollars.
Critics don’t consider the new system value for money but the project Manager for the Ghana Revenue Authority, Joseph Boateng disagrees.
“So with respect to the income, it will help us to determine how much they are earning, and how much taxes they are supposed to pay. At least we can determine about 98 percent of their income through post-paid, prepaid, incoming calls, international incoming calls and others,” Boateng said.
Private data security concerns
So for the government this is purely supposed to shore up revenue and check fraud within the telecommunication sector but not all are satisfied.
There have also been concerns about the state possibly monitoring calls of citizens and accessing their personal data.
A group of Ghanaians has been to court to on this concern, but the court ruled that the government has assured private data won’t be compromised.
Maximus Ametorgoh is a communication activist who led that campaign. He warns of further agitation if that assurance is bridged.
“The privacy of citizens is very fundamental, it’s part of our human rights so we call on the government to ensure that, that is enforced. It’s the role of the government, the data protection commission and even the telcos because you promised to give your customers that you will ensure that their data will not be compromised. Because if they do we will go back to court,” Ametorgoh added.
The new centre has started working and citizens and experts are closely watching the operations of this data centre.
For the state hopefully this should help increase its revenue from telecommunication companies as well as check fraud, the coming months will surely tell.