Airtel Africa profit dips 2pc to Sh33b

Growth in Airtel Africa’s internet and mobile money market share boosted the telco’s revenues nine per cent in the nine months to December last year.

This was, however, not enough to sustain profit growth, which declined by 2.2 per cent over the period.

The firm, which recently listed at the London Stock Exchange but is still majority-owned by India’s Bharti Airtel, saw profit after tax over the period decline to $331 million (Sh33 billion).

Revenues from its 14 operations in Africa jumped 9.9 per cent to $2.52 billion (Sh250 billion), attributed to what the firm said was a “strong” performance in Nigeria and East Africa.

The company’s operations in East Africa include Zambia and Malawi as well as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda. It noted that the region was a key driver of data and mobile money revenues following the roll-out of 4G services across the region as well as increased outlets offering Airtel Money services.

In Kenya, freeing up mobile money agents to offer services by the different service providers has partly helped the operator increase the availability of its services.

It is also benefiting from mobile money interoperability, where customers can receive money in their mobile wallets sent from a competitor’s network.

“Data revenue growth of 17.4 per cent was driven by the increase in the data customer base, up 19.4 per cent and an increase in data usage per customer, up 55.1 per cent,” said Airtel Africa in its latest financial results.

Mobile money revenue, on the other hand, increased by 44.1 per cent, driven by customer base growth of 19.9 per cent and transaction value per customer growth of 23.1 per cent.

Airtel has over time gained customers, increasing its market share to 24.6 per cent as of September last year, from about 17 per cent two years earlier. According to the firm’s financial results, Nigeria is its single largest market, posting revenues of $995 million (Sh99.5 billion), or about 40 per cent of the Sh250 billion generated by the entire Africa operation.

Locally, the firm is currently preparing to merge with Telkom Kenya, which has already received most of the regulatory approvals needed. The two telcos are, however, yet to receive approval from the Communications Authority of Kenya.

The Standard
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