TCRA launches technology for proper monitoring of international calls

13Jun 2018
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
TCRA launches technology for proper monitoring of international calls

THE Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) yesterday introduced new, technology-based systems to monitor international calls traffic via mobile telecom firms in a bid to detect fraud and improve revenue collection.

The Telecom Revenue Assurance System (TRAS) and Telecom Fraud Management System (TFMS) will, among other things, allow TCRA to be aware of all inter-network calls by consumers, according to the regulatory body’s principal researcher Dr Emanuel Manasseh.

He said TFMS alone will help to identify and bring to book people who try to tamper with the country’s communications sector by installing their own devices to call and receive international calls for free, hence denying the government due revenues.

“From now on, we will know when any call is made to or received from outside Tanzania, as well as any electronic transaction that is made,” Dr Manasseh stated, adding that in 2013 for example, about 60 per cent of all international calls were not registered by TCRA.

The two systems were formally launched by Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Prof Makame Mbarawa, who said they will go a long way to ensuring sanity prevails within the sector while the government gets what it deserves in terms of revenue.

TCRA director general James Kilaba also stressed that the agency is working on ensuring that communications, being one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country, contributes abundantly to the government’s coffers and remains safely-regulated at the same time.

Kilaba warned that TCRA is always ready to punish anyone who tries by any means to mess with the sector.

The government has intensified a crackdown on telecom fraud since President Magufuli came into office in 2015. He sacked the former TCRA top boss in 2016, saying the watchdog body had failed to monitor the industry properly resulting in the loss of potential tax revenues amounting to over $180 million a year since 2013.

Just last week, the chief executives of two leading mobile phone companies in the country, Zantel and Halotel, were arraigned in court alongside four other suspects to answer charges of fraud and tax evasion.

They were also charged with illegally importing and operating communications equipment that allowed them to fraudulently bypass the government’s telecommunications traffic monitoring system.

Simcards from the two companies were allegedly used to send and receive international text messages (SMS) without the official knowledge of TCRA.

Tanzania’s top three mobile phone operators in terms of market share are Vodacom Tanzania, Tigo Tanzania, and Bharti Airtel Tanzania.

The fast-growing communications sector has been hit by tighter regulations in recent years, including plans for a mandatory listing of at least 25 percent of each telecoms company’s shares on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE).