By Dipo Olowookere
Shareholders of Airtel Africa will receive an interim dividend of $1.5¢ (one and a half cents of the US dollar) per share for the half-year ended September 30, 2020, the board of the telco has declared.
This, according to the board, is in line with the new progressive dividend policy to focus on growth opportunities and faster deleveraging.
The new policy aims to grow the dividend annually by a mid to high-single-digit percentage from a base of $4 cents per share for the full year, the company noted in the statement on Friday.
The key highlights of the financial statements of the company released to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) showed that while the customer base grew by 12.0 per cent to 116.4 million, the revenue on a reported basis increased by 10.7 per cent to $1.8 billion, with Q2 revenue growth of 14.3 per cent.
In addition, the revenue growth in constant currency was 16.4 per cent in H1 and 19.6 per cent in the second quarter of the year.
It was observed that growth was recorded across all regions, with Nigeria up by 20.2 per cent, East Africa up by 21.9 per cent and Francophone Africa up by 4.4 per cent.
Furthermore, the voice revenue increased by 7.0 per cent, data rose by 33.4 per cent and mobile money jumped by 30.4 per cent.
In the results, the underlying EBITDA increased 12.8 per cent to $812 million while constant currency underlying EBITDA growth was 19.3 per cent, with reported underlying EBITDA margin at 44.7 per cent.
In the period under consideration, the operating profit increased by 19.5 per cent to $472 million, an increase of 28.3 per cent in constant currency, while the free cash flow stood at $319 million versus $210 million in the same period last year.
As a result of exceptional items and a one-off derivative gain incurred in the prior year, the earnings per share (EPS) dropped 52.9 per cent to $3.0¢.
In the words of the chief executive of the company, Mr Raghunath Mandava, “The fundamentals of our business remain strong and revenue growth further benefitted 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 benefitting from the fact we provide an essential service to consumers.”
According to him, in the second quarter of the fiscal year, Airtel Africa partnered 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,” he assured.
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