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  • Huawei Helps Tax Authority of Côte d'Ivoire Build Private Networks Using Optical Fibers and Microwaves

    Huawei Helps Tax Authority of Côte d'Ivoire Build Private Networks Using Optical Fibers and Microwaves

Low bandwidth, unstable networks, and high OPEX brought by economic growth creates urgent need for a solution optimizing networks, reducing costs, and accelerating digital transformation.

As a developing country experiencing rapid economic growth, Côte d'Ivoire has witnessed a compound growth rate of 11% from 2018 to 2022, maintaining steady and positive growth even during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the increase in fiscal revenue brought by this economic growth has posed challenges for the Côte d'Ivoire Directorate-General of Tax.

During the initial stage of informatization, the country lacked unified planning in ICT construction. Network interconnection between local tax sites was achieved by leasing CFAO's wireless microwave networks, but each site supported a bandwidth of only 2 Mbit/s to 4 Mbit/s, making it difficult for the networks to handle increasing services. Furthermore, branch sites were connected to two data centers through a star architecture. In this mode, sites do not form a ring, which creates a risk of network disconnections. Statistically, over 1,000 network disconnection events were reported between October 2020 and February 2021.

In addition, the Côte d'Ivoire government spent 3 billion CFA francs (US$4,936,284) on network leasing each year, accounting for 30% of its total ICT budget. To sum up, low bandwidth, unstable networks, and high OPEX became the three major pain points faced by Côte d'Ivoire in their existing network. This created an urgent need for an alternative network solution that can optimize networks and reduce costs, thereby accelerating the digital transformation of the local tax authority.

Huawei Offers Optimal Solution for Customer Requirements and Pain Points

Committed to fostering Africa's prosperity, Huawei has assisted African customers in constructing new infrastructure, developing new models, and creating new value. Huawei has cooperated closely with Côte d'Ivoire government agencies, local carriers, and financial institutions in the IT field, jointly building infrastructure like optical networks, submarine cables, and data centers to provide cloud computing, big data, and AI services and training. Considering Huawei's role in the country's successful digital transformation across various industries, the local tax authority chose to collaborate with Huawei to construct tax affairs private networks, as they wanted to slash repeated investment in infrastructure construction.

Understanding the tax authority's need for high network stability in a multi-branch scenario, Huawei actively engaged with each department of the tax authority. After comprehensive analysis, Huawei offered multiple customized solutions, considering factors such as network stability, bandwidth, security, construction period, O&M complexity, and cost, ultimately providing the best solution for the tax authority.

Tax authorities, well-versed in calculations, benefits, and return on investment (ROI), prioritized network stability, high bandwidth, and security, with scalability for nationwide deployment. Huawei's self-built hybrid private network construction solution (optical fibers + microwaves), which can increase site bandwidth by 100 times, emerged as the ideal choice.

With 138 tax sites nationwide, the annual bandwidth leasing cost was about 5 million euros (US$5,391,125). In a pilot program in Abidjan, the economic capital of the country, the tax authority deployed Huawei's hybrid network construction solution. The first phase of deployment, which provided full coverage of the solution to 38 tax sites, could reduce bandwidth leasing costs by 1.5 million euros each year, meaning investment recovery in just five years.

Optical Fiber and Microwave Networks: A Synergistic Approach

Microwave and optical fibers are two different modes for communications. Microwave, which uses radio waves for transmission, is susceptible to electromagnetic and weather interference. This results in short transmission distances, ranging from dozens of kilometers to hundreds of kilometers, as well as a low transmission rate. The CFAO networks previously leased by the tax authority are wireless microwave networks.

In contrast, optical fibers use optical signals for transmission, and therefore are free from external interference. As such, the transmission distance can reach thousands of kilometers, and high transmission rate and high stability are also supported. Huawei's project team learned that optical fibers have been deployed in over 80% of the downtown area in Abidjan. To cover all 38 tax sites, only 32 km more optical cables were needed. Constructing optical fiber private networks is always the most cost-effective choice, as resources can be reused and high bandwidth and stability can be ensured. With the exception of one remote site where optical fiber deployment is difficult, Huawei deployed high-performance optical fiber routers at the other 37 sites in Abidjan. Backbone sites form a ring to enhance reliability. Each site can provide 1 Gbit/s bandwidth, with space reserved for capacity expansion to 10 Gbit/s over the next decade. Additionally, NCE has been deployed in local data centers to provide a simplified and intelligent network O&M system, thereby reducing OPEX.

Considering the short-board effect that there will be other sites that do not support optical fiber deployment in the country, and given the general principle of maintaining the overall stability of tax affairs private networks, Huawei has reached an agreement with the local tax authority to redesign the microwave private networks, so that the optical fiber and microwave networks complement each other.

Different from the previous star architecture of CFAO, Huawei chose 2 central sites, together with seven other backbone sites, to form a ring network to provide protection. Other sites are classified as access sites and connected to the nearest backbone site. In this way, when the network is disconnected from one side, services are quickly switched to the other side to ensure continuity. Furthermore, Huawei provides higher bandwidth for the microwave private networks, on which the backbone ring can provide 400 Mbit/s bandwidth, and the access sites 100 Mbit/s, greatly increasing network capacity.

This combination of microwave and optical fiber networks generates far more benefits than expected. For one, high stability, reliability, and security are realized on the networks, reducing the risk of network attacks while ensuring proper service running. For another, the working efficiency of the tax authority is greatly improved as the network bandwidth increases. All this helps yield more economic benefits for the country and ensure social stability. For the tax authority, this solution is also highly cost-effective. The existing metro networks of other government agencies are reused to save on investment costs. Moreover, the private network construction is one-off investment. Upon the completion of construction, annual operations costs can be greatly reduced.

Conclusion

As an important part of a national information network, tax affairs private networks play a pivotal role in the operations and data security of a national tax system. It also serves as important infrastructure for ensuring economic security and social stability.

The customized hybrid network construction solution designed for the tax authority of Côte d'Ivoire has yielded positive results. First, tax affairs private networks have been deployed in Abidjan and all over the country. Second, the national tax affairs private network solution has enriched industry applications (such as big data used in tax risk control). Third, the successful delivery experience of the tax affairs private networks has been applied by other government agencies, such as Customs and CNPS. These efforts have helped unleash the digital potential of Côte d'Ivoire, contributing to the country's digital transformation and economic growth.

"As a leader in the ICT industry, Huawei helped us analyze our pain points and proposed ways in which we can improve our existing networks. They also allocated numerous experts to new solution design. There are now very few complaints about our networks. The private networks of DGI have significantly enhanced the efficiency of our tax affairs system and authority. Such improvements play an important role in achieving our strategic goal of increasing tax revenue."

Information Systems Department of Directorate-General of Tax of Côte d'Ivoire (DGI)

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