The Smart Africa Alliance (SAA) and Global Voice Group (GVG) signed today a MOU for the implementation of an African Regional Traffic Exchange and Financial Settlement (ARTEF) Platform, as part of the One Africa Network (OAN) initiative.
The ARTEF represents a major milestone in the successful deployment of the OAN initiative. According to SAA, the platform will proactively support policy implementation and enforcement within the current OAN model and create the conditions for its sustainability, security and profitability.
About the One Africa Network
The OAN is a free roaming zone agreement. As part of the broader Smart Africa vision, the OAN aims at establishing a harmonized African telecommunications framework that would give African countries the potential to make significant leaps in development through lower intra-region communication costs.
By eliminating roaming costs and by lowering costs of communications, the OAN is expected to boost intra-African traffic, trade and economic growth. Technically, this also means that international calls from one OAN country to another are charged at substantially reduced rates. However, international incoming calls from outside the OAN zone are still subject to the different fees and taxes currently applied to such calls in each OAN country.
About the ARTEF
The differential pricing between OAN-calls and non-OAN calls, along with the lack of visibility over traffic by regulators, presents fraudsters with an opportunity to circumvent the rules and defraud operators and governments of revenues rightfully due. The ARTEF represents the practical solution to these matters, preventing fraud and roaming abuse inside the OAN zone. The platform also addresses the risks of increased disputes among the local operators exchanging traffic within the free roaming zone.
With the ARTEF in place, OAN members will be assured that all traffic is verified and billed at the appropriate rates, that free roaming indeed benefits subscribers in the member countries, and that governments and local operators earn the revenues they are rightfully due. As traffic will be exchanged via regional nodes within the region, instead of being routed via carriers that take it all the way to Europe, and back down to Africa, the ARTEF is also expected to have a positive impact on the quality of service.
Benefits for All Stakeholders
Along with improved quality of service, the African subscribers within the OAN zone will benefit from lower cost of regional and roaming calls by virtue of the certification of OAN traffic.
As for the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), they will directly benefit from easy online traffic declaration and exchange and improved reconciliation and billing processes. The ARTEF will enable them to make significant savings in discount and transfer fees as well as in collection costs.
The ARTEF will also bring substantial benefits to the respective governments and regulatory authorities of OAN countries. Some of these countries have already implemented systems to measure the traffic flows and KPIs of their respective telecom sector. The ARTEF will extend this capacity to all OAN countries, allowing each OAN member to achieve effective regulatory oversight while improving collaboration at the regional level between governments and regulators.
As Patrice Baker, CEO of GVG, pointed out:
“The OAN is a major initiative for the socio-economic development of Africa. The idea of a free roaming zone and the necessity of establishing a harmonized African telecommunications framework has been discussed for many years across the continent. It is time now for action. As a technical partner and provider of the traffic exchange platform, GVG is strongly committed to assist SAA members in the successful implementation of the OAN.”