The first time a billion-dollar status flashed right in the front of Airtel Africa’s eyes, it was telling that the telecoms industry in Africa isn’t hogwash. A recent improvement in the African telco’s revenue sheet goes to say that the odds are even.
Today, Airtel Africa reports that its revenue for the first 9 months of the financial year was 13.8 percent more that what it had the last time. With a third quarter growth at an increase of 19.5 percent, the mobile operator landed a total of USD 2.87 Bn.
Also, Airtel Africa’s constant currency underlying revenue growth saw an 18.6 percent jump for the 9 months which ended 31st December. Again, the third quarter leaps with a growth of 22.8 percent.
Across all of its sub-regions of operations in Africa, the telco recorded significant growths. In Nigeria, for instance, revenues went up by 21 percent last year, while its businesses in Francophone Africa rose by 8.0 percent. But its East African axis claimed the heavyweight, growing 23.4 percent faster that it previously did.
The network carrier’s various services also experienced individual improvements. For voice, revenues climbed 10.4 percent, while data followed suit with a 31.1 percent surge. Then, when it comes to mobile money–the bedrock of African fintech–there was a 3.42 percent increase in revenues for Airtel Africa.
The company’s general operating profit increased by 21.8 percent amounting to USD 800 Mn in reported currency and by 29.9 percent in constant currency. It’s free cash flow waved in USD 466 Mn, which is 20 percent more than what was flushed in last year.
To testify to Airtel having it good in Nigeria, the business has paid £ 140 Mn (USD 191 Mn at current market rates) to continue operating in the country. Well, buying a license to operate for the next decade in a country that’s your biggest market in the continent makes a lot of sense. Also, Nigeria is the most populous black nation on earth and the largest economy in Africa.
Airtel’s customer base, like MTN’s in South Africa or Safaricom’s in Kenya, is also growing. Its subscriber base, for the same financial year, was 11.0 percent bigger, becoming 118.9 million. There was increased penetration across mobile data for a 23.5 percent growth, then the customer base for its mobile money services became 2.90 percent larger.
A sum of 2.5 million customers joined Airtel Africa in the third quarter alone. Despite Covid-19, the telco was still able to flex these numbers. However, Airtel Africa CEO Raghunath Mandava seems to say the figures were, in part, boosted by the pandemic’s domino effect on its business model.
“Our nine-month performance reflects both the resilience of our business model through the Covid-19 pandemic and, for the last six months, a continued improvement in our execution and performance as lockdown restrictions have eased across our countries of operation,” he said.
“In part, this is due to our continued delivery of strong customer growth in the third quarter, despite the introduction mid-December of additional customer registration requirements in Nigeria. This has meant a temporary halt to the ability of all operators in the country to onboard new customers.”