FY21: Airtel Africa Posts Double-Digit Growth in Data, Mobile Money Earnings

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By Dipo Olowookere

Airtel Africa said in its financial year ended March 31, 2021, its data and mobile money earnings improved by double digits as a result of the lockdown imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in its operating markets.

Business Post observed that while data revenue grew by 24.3 per cent to $1.2 billion from $930 million, the revenue generated from its mobile money business went up by 29.1 per cent to $401 million from $311 million, with voice revenue recording 5.8 per cent growth to $2.1 billion from $2.0 billion.

At the close of transactions for the accounting year, the total earnings stood at $3.9 billion as against $3.4 billion recorded in the corresponding full year.

Also, the EBITDA rose by 18.3 per cent to $1.8 billion from $1.5 billion, while the operating profit jumped 24.2 per cent to $1.1 billion from $901 million, with the net finance costs at $423 million versus $372 million recorded in FY 2020.

The telco disclosed in its results that the profit before tax for the year was $697 million in contrast to $598 million of the preceding year, while the profit after tax slightly rose by 1.8 per cent to $415 million from $408 million.

The customer base of the company recorded a 6.9 per cent growth to 118.2 million, with increased penetration across mobile data (customer base up 14.5 per cent) and mobile money services (customer base up 18.5 per cent). The slow growth in the customer base was attributed to the new SIM registration regulations in Nigeria, which was relaxed in April 2021.

However, the board of Airtel Africa has recommended a final dividend of 2.5 cents per share, making the total dividend for FY21 4.0 cents per share.

Commenting on the performance of the organisation in the period under review, the outgoing CEO of Airtel Africa, Mr Raghunath Mandava, said, “Our performance has been strong, with reported growth of 13.6 per cent in underlying revenue and 18.3 per cent in underlying EBITDA, and constant currency growth of 19.4 per cent and 25.2 per cent respectively.

“Contributions to this growth came across all regions, with particular improvement in Francophone Africa, and across all our major services, with mobile money, data and voice each posting double-digit revenue growth.

“Our customer base also grew strongly for most of the year with new customer registration requirements in Nigeria, stemming our onboarding of new customers in the final quarter, and these restrictions were lifted in the second half of April.

“In line with our strategy of unlocking value in our mobile money business, we will soon welcome two new minority investors (The Rise Fund and Mastercard) in agreed transactions which value this part of our business at $2.65 billion, as well as bringing $300 million into the group.

“We have also agreed to sell more of our tower portfolio, yielding yet more cash for the business. The COVID-19 pandemic had eased during the course of the year, however, more recently we have seen a surge in cases.

“So far, this has had no adverse impact on the business, though we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“In these times, our purpose of transforming lives has never been more critical. It has always meant more than simply providing mobile and financial services; it is about our drive to create a sustainable future.

“To that end, this year the leadership team has worked to create our sustainability framework, outlining the role we can play and the focus areas where we can make the biggest difference for each of our business, our people, our community, and our environment.

“We will report back with our goals later this year and deliver our first sustainability report in 2022. The combination of bringing connectivity to underpenetrated mobile markets and improving financial inclusion through banking the unbanked, across our territories of operation, together provide us with a sizeable runway of sustainable profitable growth potential, and one we remain very confident of delivering.”

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