By James Claude, CEO of Global Voice Group
As government processes and programs become more streamlined, data is continually being generated and
utilized to ensure that services are being delivered as effectively as possible.
This is done through data tracking, which is the process of collecting, identifying, and categorizing individual informational points throughout the data pipeline so they can be used in analysis.
Data tracking encompasses the tools companies and governments use to organize their data and the ethical framework they use to protect user privacy and security.
This is what drives data-driven decision-making. However, while data tracking can provide valuable insights, it also raises significant concerns about privacy and the potential misuse of personal information.
Data tracking can be used to benefit a plethora of sectors, with good examples being found in curbing money
laundering and terrorist financing – which are all still issues for the African continent.
It is estimated that US$50 billion a year in illicit financial funds flows out of West African countries alone. These illicit activities represent a net loss for the region – in terms of lost country and company revenue, investment, and legitimacy.
Implementing data tracking mechanisms in these sectors would have immense benefits for African
governments, helping them identify channels used to facilitate these illegal outflows.
With the growth of mobile money on the continent, mobile money platforms have become a primary transaction channel for many.
Data from GSMA shows that Africa now accounts for 66% of the world’s US$1.26 trillion mobile money value –
totaling US$832 billion in 2022.
This is a 22% increase from 2021, identical to the global average increase. Ghana, Tanzania, Congo-Brazzaville, Uganda, and Rwanda have successfully implemented a mobile money monitoring platform, enabling them to collectively verify over US$ 456B in total mobile money transaction value since 2014.
The same countries have brought into compliance over 26B between operators, their agents, and the states since 2014.
There are 15 other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) that have an active telecoms traffic monitoring system (TTMS), with another five already in the process of installing such a system, according to GSMA’s report on ‘Assessing the impact of telecoms traffic monitoring systems in Sub-Saharan Africa’.
These systems provide the capabilities to actively or passively collect data from incoming and outgoing electronic
communications traffic in real-time and store or report this information to the telecoms regulator or other
Some of the reasons given by governments in relation to implementing these systems are the prevention of SIM
box fraud, verification of revenues due to the government from the provision of telecoms services, and the
provision of real-time traffic visibility of various telecoms services.
This results in improved transparency, compliance, and the curbing of illicit money flow, such as terrorist financing, which is necessary in an increasingly digital economy.
Collaboration, cooperation, and trust between regulators and the players in regulated sectors are crucial for
reaping the full benefits of data tracking.
By sharing information and insights, we can significantly enhance the impact of these systems, ensuring that they meet the sector’s requirements and address gaps in revenue mobilization, compliance, oversight, and risk management.
However, data tracking also poses significant risks to privacy and civil liberties. Governments and companies
are responsible for protecting their citizens’ personal information and ensuring that data is used only for
Organizations working together with governments, such as ourselves, also have a role to play in protecting any citizen data collected.
In line with best practices, to ensure the safety of the data collected, the data must undergo an anonymization process, resulting in anonymous data that cannot be associated with any individual or company.
This entails removing any private or confidential information from all the aggregated data.
In conclusion, from curbing illicit financial activities to improving service delivery, data tracking can
revolutionize various sectors and drive data-driven decision-making.
Governments and companies must work together to ensure the responsible use of data while maximizing its potential to improve our lives.
The benefits of employing such systems would be felt by governments across Africa quite quickly and accelerate the growth of sectors driving the continent’s growth. With effective collaboration, cooperation, and trust, data tracking can pave the way for a more efficient and transparent digital economy in Africa and beyond.
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