Airtel Africa records profit gain

Airtel Africa booked higher revenues and profits on the back of rising subscriber numbers and service uptake.

Profit after tax grew 1.7% to US$523 million, while revenue was up more significantly at 12.1% to US$3.9 billion. Revenue grew as the company reported growth across its units.

Mobile services grew across its 14 markets, with Nigeria, its largest market, seeing growth of 20.9%. Whereas East Africa experienced a rise of 11.9% and Francophone Africa by 11.8%. Breaking down mobile services, data revenue was the highest riser at 22.3% while voice services were up by 12.7%.  

The growth coincided with swelling subscriber numbers as the total customer base increased by 10.1% to 138.5 million across Airtel’s footprint. The customer base for data grew 13.6% while mobile money customer was up 22.2%.

CEO Segun Ogunsanya highlighted in a financial call today (Feb 2) the profile of Nigerian customers is shifting. Around 20% are on 4G, 15% use 3G, and the rest of the base is still using 2G phones. The chief executive said this leaves plenty of room for growth by transferring customers over to 4G to gain revenues from services such as mobile finance.

Capex in the last three quarters grew 5.8% to US$457 million, as the group acquired spectrum in Nigeria, DRC, Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya.

Ogunsanya said: “We will continue to invest in expanding our network and evolving our service offerings to further deepen both financial and digital inclusion across our markets. We have especially focused on enhancing our spectrum footprint across all our markets. Over the last nine months we have spent almost $490m on 4G and 5G spectrum across key markets to improve network capacity and quality, future-proof the company for continued growth opportunities and facilitate economic progress in all our markets.