Airtel Africa’s total revenue on a reported basis grew by 10.7 percent to $1,815 million in the first half ended September 30, 2020, with the second quarter recording 14.3 percent growth.
The leading telecommunications company grew customer base by 12 percent to 116.4 million during the period under review.
According to the financial statements released through the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the growth was recorded across the regions of operations with Nigerian operations recorded a 20.2 percent increase while East Africa added 21.9 percent and Francophone Africa rose by 4.4 percent.
Services, with voice revenue, rose by 7 percent during the period. Data and mobile money grew by 33.4 percent and 30.4 percent, respectively.
Airtel Africa Highlights for the First Half:
• Underlying EBITDA increased 12.8% to $812m while constant currency underlying EBITDA growth was 19.3%
• Reported underlying EBITDA margin was 44.7%, up by 85 bps (110 bps in constant currency)
• Operating profit increased by 19.5% to $472m, an increase of 28.3% in constant currency
• Free cash flow was $319m compared to $210m in the same period last year
• Basic EPS was $3.0¢, down 52.9% largely as a result of exceptional items and a one-off derivative gain incurred in the prior year. Excluding these one-off benefits basic EPS would be up 19%. EPS before exceptional items was $3.0¢
Speaking on the company’s performance, Raghunath Mandava, Chief Executive Officer, said “The first half of our fiscal year included the peak impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the countries where we operate, as lockdown measures were swiftly implemented to stem the initial spread of contagion.
“In these unprecedented times, the telecoms industry has emerged as a key and essential service for these economies, allowing customers to work remotely, reduce their travels, keep them connected and allow access to affordable entertainment. In these exceptional circumstances, in the first half, we delivered a strong set of results and as lockdown restrictions eased during Q2 our performance continued to improve with constant currency revenue growth of 19.6%, up 6.6% from the prior quarter.
“Importantly, the fundamentals of our business remain strong and revenue growth further benefited from the execution of our strategy with a specific focus on expanding distribution in the rural areas, investing in our network and increasing 4G coverage, as well as benefiting from the fact we provide an essential service to consumers.
“In Q2, performance in our mobile money business also significantly improved with constant currency revenue growth of 33.9%, up 8% from prior quarter, as lockdown restrictions were eased and fees on certain transactions, which had been previously waived, were largely reintroduced. We also continued to enter new partnerships with leading institutions such as WorldRemit, MoneyGram, Standard Chartered Bank, and Mukuru to increase use cases and improve customers’ access to digital payments and financial services.
“We remain alert to the potential for further disruptions from a second wave of COVID-19 across Africa, and the associated actions of governments to minimise contagion. Nevertheless, we are in a strong financial position to capture the opportunities in a fast-growing region that is vastly underpenetrated in terms of mobile and banking services. We remain confident of delivering long term sustained growth for our shareholders.”
Meanwhile, MTN Nigeria’s profit before tax declined by 0.6 percent to N211.6 billion in the nine months ended September 30, 2020.