By Prince Osuagwu
Managing Director ofÂ Â Starcomms Plc, Mr Maher Quiben has challenged the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC to reduce interconnection rates between the CDMA operators and their GSM counterparts, to encourage more industry improvements.
Quiben said Nigeriaâ€™s interconnect rate was very high and unbalanced compared to many other countries of the world, but said that a quick reduction would enthrone fair play in the industry.
He was saying these when he led a delegation of his companyâ€™s top management officers on a visit to Vanguard newspapers yesterday. He however noted that his company has written a twenty page letter compiling different interconnect tariff plans of different countries of the world to ensure that NCC listens to reason.
Meanwhile, Quiben announced that Starcomms has just recorded an improved result in its 2009 first half financial reports of up to N16.919 billion in net revenue, while increasing in subscriber base by 95 percent.
Fielding questions from a team of Vanguard Editors, he stated that though the Nigerian market was a difficult one to operate in, it was also one of the best in the world.
According to him, â€œinspite of the current economic challenges and highly competitive operating environment, Starcomms has nearly doubled her subscriber base whilst increasing EB1ETDA by almost 200% over the corresponding periodâ€.
â€œwe increased subscriber base by 95% to over 2.484 million active subscribers in the period from the 1.273 million we had in first half of 2008.
â€œToday, total Net Revenue grew by 7% to N16.919 billion compared to N15.805 billion in first half of 2008. This is largely as a result of the enlarged subscriber base. EBIETDA (Earnings Before Interest, Exchange Differences, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation) grew by 193% to N4.727 billion as against the N1.614 billion in first half of 2008. The Company returned to profitability, posting an Operating Profit of N829.1 million while in first half 2008, we had Operating Loss of N826.0 million).
â€œAlso for the first half of the 2009 financial year, Starcomms recorded an unrealized loss on foreign exchange in of N3.767 billion, with most of this occurring in the first quarter. The Company plans to convert $60 million of its dollar denominated debt into a medium term Naira facility within the 3rd quarter. This will aid in reducing the Companyâ€™s exposure to foreign exchange fluctuations in the 3rd quarter and beyondâ€ he added.