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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Starcomms, SA & U sign deal

Largest Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Third Generation (3G) mobile operator, Starcomms Limited and SA & U Associates, a Lagos-based marketing communications consultancy, have signed a deal to provide a platform on its recharge cards for media buyers.

The latest agreement, would afford the marketing communications firm to source adverts for placement on Starcomms recharge cards.

Speaking at the agreement signing ceremony in Lagos recently, Commercial Director Starcomms, Mr. Prakash Pantham, said as a leading and innovative telecoms operator, Starcomms has decided to go into the pact in order to set a pace in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.

“Across the continent, the sale of scratch cards is a multi-million dollars industry, employing millions of Africans. In Nigeria it has been estimated that Nigerians use about 40 million units of scratch cards monthly. As a leading player in the telecoms sector, we thought it wise to further raise the stakes by providing a value-added service on our recharge cards, and also offer a credible platform for discerning advertisers in order to increase their brand share and presence since every passing minute someone is making or receiving a call on the Starcomms’ network, hence recharging his phone,” he said, adding that with over 400,000 active subscribers, and operations in Nigeria’s major commercial cities of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, and Ibadan, Starcomms sells over one million recharge cards per month.

However, with its plans to extend operations to Aba, Onitsha and Asaba in the coming weeks, the subscriber base is projected to more than double.

He said that the cards are available in various denominations from N500 to N9,000.

According to Nkem Jibunoh, Technical Consultant, SA&U Associates, this development confirms a Massachusetts, U.S based Telecommunications research firm, Pyramid’s assertion that Starcomms was a telecommunications company to watch out for among its peers in its most recent report on the Nigerian telecommunications sector.

“This concept is the first of its kind in the whole of Africa , and perhaps, the world. Though, it is in line with our chosen forte as an innovation-driven firm, without Starcomms it probably would have remained stillborn.

“We came up with this concept for a number of reasons. First, against the backdrop of the fact that organizations the world over are becoming customer-centric. It is natural that there is no better place to advertise your customer care hotlines than through the recharge card. It is like unwittingly saying ‘please recharge and call us up’. Second, millions of naira have been paid for adverts on radio, T.V and even newspapers that the targets do not get to hear, watch or read either because of our peculiar power situation or economic reasons, or both. But these same people have phones that they recharge now and again. What is more, advertising on recharge cards is about tracking technology and flowing with the trend, which is moving from cash to card,” she said.

Jibunoh further said that the adverts on recharge cards concept is a direct response to the new drive in the economy to make it retail/consumer focused like it is in developed economies where at least 40 per cent of their balance sheet and yield volume is realized from the lower end of the market.

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