Africel Sierra Leone

By Moses Kay Fembeh

On Wednesday 21st September 2022, Africell Sierra Leone held a signing-up ceremony for their newest Brand Ambassador Mammy Thomas of Housemates Salone season 3, at their Africellheadquarters in Wilberforce village.

Mr. John KontehAfricell Media Manager gave a background on digital ambassadors. He said digital media is a new initiative and they as a big telecommunication company in the country will help their company and its marketing strategy to be enlarged.  The memorandum of understanding was signed up for a year and according to John Konteh, the MoU will be reviewed yearly on a performance basis. That is to say, if any ambassador meets theirexpectations, he/she will be signed up. He therefore looks forward to a better collaboration with Mammy Thomas. 

Joe Abass Bangura the Africell Chief Cooperate Affairs Officer gave a brief background of Mammy Thomas. “Osman Bendu alias Mammy Thomas is a native of Moyema in the Moyamba district. Born in 1993, Mommy Thomas attended several schools in Freetown such are St. Helena A.M. E Secondary School & Methodist Boys High Secondary School etc, Within 9 months Osman has gotten 82000 followers on TikTok and this is huge. Let me say a bit about myself, I sat to my third O level exam at the IndependentGovernment Secondary School at Shell in 1999. Africell has helped several young people like Kelvin Doe. Doe and I went to the American Embassy for an interview and his ticket fees were paid by Africell. Another Young man, Karim Brima of Kenema won one billion old Leones from Africell. You can never be Kelvin or Brima because we are all different in life. There is hard work and there is luck, so, if we are to spiritualize luck, you can say someone is favoured by God. So, On behalf of the Managing Director and andthe general staff members of Africell, I say congratulations to you Osman and we look forward to teamwork, Africell believes in you”, Joe AbassBangura said

Going further, the Brand Ambassador, Osman Bendualias Mammy Thomas who is a comedian and a student of the University of Management and Technology (UMTEC) Kissy Dockyard, Freetown said,  “I would foremost start by appreciating God for sustaining me to attain this first height in my career. To tell the truth, I have never dreamed of this, I was born in Tombo, my ancestral home is Moyema but my mother used to come to do business in Tombo where I grew up. Since I was a poor boy, from a poor family I started engaging myself in several activities that would keep me and my parents going. I would remember when my father and my elder brother who is in our mist today used to come to Freetown. Our father would say, ‘Hey! You see thatjeep it was bought by pen and you see that house over there it was bought by pen’ so I’m expecting you both to buy me a car and build me a house someday.’ Fortunately, our father could not live to tell the story as we lost him two years ago, but I believe he is a happy man today and it was due to what his used to tell us that made me desire the highest education in the land but financial difficulties have been the major challenge, but I’m grateful today. I have never travelled out of the country nor do I have a passport book, however, Africell in collaboration with African Young Voices (AYV) Housemates Salone season 3 has helped shaped my belief that there are better days ahead. I’m grateful too for travelling to Dubai under the ticket of Africelland I pray to the Almighty God that he continues to strengthen our relationship for the best now and in the future.”

Mommy Thomas continued that he applied three times for the Housemates salone 1, 2 &3 but he was unsuccessful on the first two occasions. He only made it in Housemates salone season 3. He further said that some of his friends and people pessimistically asked him after his first and second failure to quit the idea of housemates. “U nor go tire for apply, u sef” they used to remark.  But he often told them that he would notquit for any reason. He further said that he can’t fully imagine what could have been of him if he had quitted. He concluded by thanking his manager for being there for him; encouraged young people to stay focused and never give up on their dreams, and applauded the management of Africell for their continual support in making sure that dreams and potentials are bred again in young people.

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The Board Chairperson of the National Revenue Authority Mrs. Tuma Adama Gento Kamara has made a very strong case to the Belt and Road Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism- BRITACOM towards the support of data analytics and the establishment of a data warehouse for the National Revenue Authority in Sierra Leone. The theme for the 3rd BRITACOF is “Enhancing Tax Administration Capacity Building in the post pandemic era”. In her keynote address, the Vice Chairperson of the institution Tuma Adama Gento Kamara highlighted some of the most important digital reforms made so far by the NRA in the last three years noting the immense changes in the country’s revenue administration. She said that despite these positive steps, a wide range of institutional weaknesses persist, and according to her, that is where the practicality of capacity building comes in. “These weaknesses ultimately have the potential to negatively impact on the revenue mobilization drive of the Government” she said. The NRA Board Chair said that the limited capacity building and inability to catch up with the levels of revenue/GDP performance of many of the performing countries in the African continent are caused by a combination of factors such as the lack of access to reliable data, weak capacity in data analytics, low capacity of ICT staff and the inability to retain them, the lack of skills for revenue intelligence analysis, low taxpayer education, the adoption of reform projects and the absence of an evaluation mechanism to assess their effectiveness, and the lack of exposure to best practices from other countries which have successfully implemented ICT reforms.

She said for Countries like Sierra Leone, one of the main problems causing low institutional capacity is the lack of access to reliable revenue data. Although the NRA has introduced ICT systems, some key business processes are still performed manually, which render access to reliable data impossible especially when the systems are yet to be integrated or linked.

She continued that staff responsible for research and monitoring have to extract data manually from the archives which is not only time consuming, but also impairs the quality of data needed to inform tax audit, risk assessment, forecasting and research. As a first step to addressing the problem of accessing reliable data, Mrs. Gento- Kamara said the institution is planning to set up a Data Analytics unit dedicated to extracting and analysing data regularly to inform risk management, tax audit, forecasting and research. This unit is expected to be trained and provided with advanced data analytics software to ensure it handles all data needs in the Authority. Establishing and capacitating the Data Analytics unit is therefore a key indicator to the success of the project.

Moreover, the NRA Board Chair said that the institution is seeking to Establish a data warehouse which provides a one stop shop for data accessibility. According to her it is a software platform where data from internal ICT revenue systems and from ministries, departments and agencies of government will be stored and retrieved for analysis. According to her, achieving accessibility to data will be dependent on the creation of a data warehouse system.

The data warehouse she said, will partly feed from NRA ICT systems such as ASYCUDA World, ITAS and ECR, as well as operational systems of MDAs with a stake in revenue collection.  Linking all these systems together makes it easier for users of the data.

She concluded by giving four recommendations that she thinks will ensure sustainability and benefit of technological advancement to tax administrations of BRITACOM,

1.   ICT staff and project management teams of the technological systems of tax administrations must be fully capacitated and incentivised to ensure retention of their services.

2.   A central ICT training lab should be established within the continent of Africa to train ICT staff and project management teams in the technologies of the systems rolled out and those that constantly evolve with time. Sierra Leone already has vast acreage of land space for such a training lab that can serve the rest of members of the continent.

3.   Sustainability and continued benefit of revenue systems technologies in member administrations of BRITACOM could also be enhanced by building capacity in data management including setting up of a data warehouse system and data analytics function within revenue administrations.

4. Sustainability and benefit of technological systems for BRITACOM members is to strengthen capacity in digital communication through making use of interactive tools in the ICT systems of revenue administrations to reach out to taxpayers whilst they can also seek clarifications and forward complaints using the same interactive tools. Many of the revenue systems being rolled out today provide for such facility, but not sufficiently utilized to reach the elite taxpayers who contribute the larger portion of revenues raised by tax administrations.

She concluded that if that if the impact of BRITACOM is to be felt within member countries, these areas must be supported or given serious consideration.  

She therefore called on China as leaders of the Belt and Road Initiative Tax Administration Cooperation Mechanism to join hands with other member countries to seriously consider the aforementioned areas of support for sustainable technology usage and capacity building in BRITACOM Revenue Administrations.

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