MTC Records Unprecedented Growth

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK LOCAL mobile phone operator MTC, started from scratch in 1995 with an initial capital outlay of N$25 million, has grown into a telecommunications giant with 410 000 subscribers and boasts an annual turnover of N$866 million, according to its managing director. In an information sharing session held early this week, Bengt Strenge, the Managing Director of Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC), indicated that 90 percent of the subscribers are prepaid and the remaining 10 percent are post-paid customers. New Era was told upon inquiry that on a single day when traffic peaks, MTC investment in infrastructure which is currently N$700 million handles slightly over 4 million calls on its network resulting in congestion. Since 2001 MTC has recorded double digit growth. In 2004, it registered growth of 13 percent in the number of post-paid subscribers while prepaid grew by 87 percent while its growth averaged 27 percent in 2004. Though it acknowledges being perceived expensive, inefficient and providing bad coverage, its managing director maintains most of its rates are lower than in South Africa and in neighbouring Botswana and that the cellular phone operator is efficient. Jochen Traut, MTC’s General Manager for Operations also said the introduction of the N$10 re-charge voucher has turned into a cash-cow exceeding its expectations and even pushing its targets to the ones it initially projected would only be reached in 2008. Compared to Telecom Namibia, the only fixed line operator that employs 1 500 people, MTC with 270 employees is doing exceedingly well. Apart from creating 270 direct jobs, between 2 500 to 3 000 people benefit indirectly from the corresponding sector. Among the factors that contributed to its success is that MTC is operated strictly on business principles coupled with high efficiency and successful branding and has competitive rates compared to its peers in the region. MTC makes big tax and dividend payments and in the 2005/6 financial year, it intends ploughing N$10 million or around one percent of the projected turnover into sports, culture, education and funding activities benefiting orphans and vulnerable children. Though the number of MTC sites was 166 by December 2003, to date there are 228 sites and this number is expected to swell to 380 by next year. Terrace Bay, Palmwag, Grootberg, Maroelaboom, Kalkfeld and Otjikondo are among the settlements where new coverage was requested. There are also several areas where it intends to expand its road coverage as it insists by so doing it will boost its customer retention and loyalty while at the same time sharpen the competitive edge. But all has not been smooth sailing for MTC as it faces the challenge of site acquisition and the power supplied by NamPower is limited, thus stunting growth. High satellite costs are another obstacle. This week’s well-attended media presentation at a local hotel in Windhoek was attended by Albertus Aochamub, MTC’s Manager for Corporate Services and Liz van Wyk, its Brand Executive.