Kenya focussed on data driven decision making

2016-11-14 07:37

Kenya will be looking into analysing data services—an indication of the importance of key performance indicators in the development of mobile data revenue services.

With the exception of South Africa, mobile data service revenue still accounts for very little in the overall revenue for African mobile operators. Most African mobile operators have a long way to go before generating any serious revenue from mobile data services and in the short term, therefore, this does not give them much leverage to play with when it comes to compensating for falling voice revenue.  In fact the overall revenue figures—with the exception of South Africa—raise serious doubts about how well the strategy of using mobile data revenue as a way of hedging overall revenue from falling voice revenue will work in Africa.  This is currently what mobile operators in developed countries are counting on.

With this in mind, the Communications Authority of Kenya has said that it will consider including data among its key performance indicators that have previously—and for a long time—focused only on voice. Following a meeting with the Kenyan telecoms operators, the Industry regulator has said that this is among the model changes that it wants to be included in the next quality of service assessment report. Francis Wangusi, the director-general of the Kenyan Communications Authority, says the new methodology will be finalised by the end of the year and could incorporate new measuring tools.  This is interesting, as the operators continue to find fault with the tools they currently have available for measurement.  He also said: “Currently we are forced to do a single quality of service assessment report as we have limited manpower, hence we want to hire consultants to help us carry the assessment key performance indicators.”

It is a well-known fact that there can be no improvement without measurement and in the face of dwindling Official Development Aid and competing needs, African countries must use the available resources cost-effectively and ensure that the revenue is channeled to the most important needs.  For this, they need data for informed decision-making.

African governments must face their challenges with policy decisions based on actual evidence and real-time data. Traditionally data comes from long, manpower intensive and costly studies. Technology that has the ability to extract data in real-time from high volume transaction sectors provides a much easier and efficient solution when it comes to evidence-based policy making.

Evidence-based policy-making is needed in all spheres of government.  Telecommunications is an important economic sector for most emerging countries and a country like Rwanda has made great strides forward in this area. Accurate data has enabled the country to make enormous progress in the communications sector: extending Internet accessibility, improving infrastructure, and integrating ICTs, as well as prioritising e-Health and digital literacy initiatives—and the Rwandan government hopes to achieve 80% financial inclusion for the Rwandan people by 2017.  These are no insignificant achievements. The successes Rwanda has achieved have come largely as a result of accurate data from a collaborative effort between the country and ICT partners like Global Voice Group.  Kenya could achieve the same results through a similar partnership.

Other discussions in Kenya centre on high roaming and mobile charges while calling within the East African region.  Furthermore cyber security challenges continue to plague the authorities.  Tanzania is the first country in the world to have deployed mobile money monitoring technology—a progressive and important step which will give visibility into all mobile money transactions to protect the mobile money market and users and also to enable better planning of the cashless economy.  It will also limit the risk of fraud, money laundering and the financing of terrorists.

We live in a digital world where sophisticated ICT systems are at the centre of economic security and the telecommunication infrastructure forms the backbone of the whole ecosystem.  A mobile phone can now be used as a terminal through which financial services can be provided or to connect people to the Internet Superhighway.  By monitoring the different areas of activity, government can ensure that the necessary quality of service required for services like these is maintained.  It can also channel resources to growth areas and smooth the way for future developments.  The impact of these services on the economy as a whole can also be seen.

Wangusi was, however, quick to add that although the telecommunications authority will act as a negotiator in the telecoms sector, it will not hesitate in enforcing the law.  Citing new powers in the amendment to the Kenya Information and Communications Act gazetted in January 2014, he said that SIM regulation registration has been finalised.

Among details that the new regulation requires to be captured include: details of the SIM owner, the verification process, the registration of minors, record-keeping of all registration details, confidentiality, proxies in the registration process, liability of use and access to site records.  The decision of the Kenyan Communications Authority with respect to analysing data services in future Quality of Service (QoS) reports augurs well for the future of data services in the country.


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