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RAS: Govt Targets MTN, Glo, 15 Tech Firms in Fresh Revenue Drive

RAS: Govt Targets MTN, Glo, 15 Tech Firms in Fresh Revenue Drive
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The Federal Government has targeted MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile, Airtel Nigeria, and 9mobile, the nation’s four biggest mobile operators, and 15 tech firms with the planned deployment of Revenue Assurance Solution (RAS) to boost taxation in the telecoms industry.

Under the plan, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) says it is forging ahead with the implementation of a Revenue Assurance Solution (RAS), a technology to be deployed by its technical partner, 3R Company Nigeria Limited that connects directly into telcos’ systems for real-time validation of revenue due to government.

3R Revenue Assurance Solutions Limited (3RRAS), formed as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created by 3R and sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy (FMoCDE) and NCC stands ready to execute the government’s revenue assurance drive, according to the technical partner.

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Professor Garba Danbatta, NCC EVC says the telecoms regulator is going ahead with the deployment of the Revenue Assurance Solutions (RAS) for the telecoms industry.

Under the plan, 3RRAS has been set up “for the purpose of deploying a Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management Solution infrastructure that will automate, monitor, track, analyze, reconcile accounts and keep long-term records of all the revenue accruing to the Federal Government of Nigeria in the Nigerian telecommunications industry.”

RAS: How Revenue Assurance Technology Works

Under the plan, 3RRAS has been set up “for the purpose of deploying a Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management Solution infrastructure that will automate, monitor, track, analyze, reconcile accounts and keep long-term records of all the revenue accruing to the Federal Government of Nigeria in the Nigerian telecommunications industry,” the firm says on its website.

3RRAS, which listed MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile, Airtel Nigeria, and 9mobile among its top firms of interest, says that the nation’s four biggest telcos will come “within our scope of services.”

Other tech firms in the telecoms sector coming under the RAS radar include Ntel, Cyberspace, Hyperia, Galaxy Backbone, Swift Networks, Internet Solutions Nigeria, IPNX, VDT Communications, Tizeti, Spectranet, Main One, Netcom Africa, Smile Communications, Cobranet, and Cool-Link.

Meanwhile, Professor Umar Danbatta, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, has explained the reasons for delays encountered in the take-off of the deal with 3R that started in 2015, while speaking during an industry stakeholder consultative engagement organised by NCC at its head office in Abuja on Friday, February 25, 2022.

In a statement made available to Technology Times, Danbatta says the need to deploy the most appropriate RAS in the Nigerian telecoms industry began in 2015 when the Commission published an invitation to bid for the services, in which 3R Company Nigeria Limited emerged as the preferred bidder. 

During the bid process, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) indicated a ‘no objection’ to the process, the NCC chief tells the forum.

“However, it was reasoned thereafter, that due to the scope of the project, the solution would be more appropriately procured under a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement. This led to the invitation of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to guide the process, as mandated by its regulations.

Following this, the Commission set up a Project Delivery Team (PDT), which worked with a consortium of legal advisers, financial modelers, and PPP experts under the guidance of ICRC, and took the appropriate steps required under the ICRC Regulations 2005,” Danbatta says.

According to him, part of the process included proper due diligence of the preferred partner, “which received a clean bill of health from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) while the Commission also subjected the software and hardware components of the proposed RAS to the certification of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).”

The NCC EVC adds that the Commission recorded a major feat on December 17, 2021, as the transaction received the Certificate of Compliance from the ICRC in line with the provisions of the ICRC Act 2005. 

“Thus,” Danbatta says, “the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) graciously presented the NCC RAS project to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on January 26, 2022, where the final approval was given for the implementation of the solution.”

NCC, he explains, is unwavering in its commitment to deploy the RAS in the telecom sector to ensure a more robust Annual Operating Levy (AOL) administration in the telecom industry.

The RAS application, the telecoms regulator says, is designed to ensure a linkage with licensed telecommunications operators’ systems and will have the capability of capturing and reporting in near real-time, billing activities by the operators for the purposes, amongst others, of computing and assuring, with a minimal margin of error, the accruable AOL to NCC from the licensees. 

“When deployed, the NCC RAS will bring significant solutions to the industry’s challenges, including a more effective and enhanced monitoring and regulation of the licensed telecommunications operators,” according to Danbatta, who notes that “AOL remains the bedrock of an efficient and effective telecommunications regulatory environment.”

According to him, the event was organised to sensitise industry stakeholders through a conversation on the Commission’s plan to deploy RAS that will instill greater transparency and increased accuracy in the administration of AOL in the sector, as stipulated by the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003.

Since the NCA 2003 came into force, he says, “and pursuant to Section 72 of the Act, various efforts have been made by the Commission towards achieving an effective AOL administration, including the development of AOL Regulations 2014, which is being reviewed.”

NCC, the telecoms regulatory chief says, “believes that the deployment of appropriate RAS would enhance monitoring and regulatory activities around AOL administration and confer higher levels of integrity and fidelity on the AOL figures obtainable in the industry.”

Edoyemi Ogoh, NCC Deputy Director of Technical Standards and Network Integrity, who also spoke at the event says that the approval of the RAS project by the FEC is a major success in finding a transparent process for an independent assessment, validation, and completeness of the Annual Operating Levy (AOL).

RAS, Ogoh says, has the capability to limit the loss of revenue due to faulty billings, inaccurate or incomplete data and information from service providers, redundantly provided services, and fraud. 

“It will enable the resolution of inconsistencies in billings for services provided by licensed service providers to their subscribers as well as AOL bills from NCC to service providers, resulting in optimum efficiency and accuracy.

The RAS would enable the Commission to validate the information, records, and data that are supplied to the Commission by the licensees,” Ogoh adds.

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