Airtel Africa posts 14.2% revenue increase in Q4
Airtel Africa saw revenue rise by 14.2%, year on year in Q4, as the customer base grew and recent developments paid off.
The telco – which posted its 11th quarter of double-digit growth in H1 of the last financial year – has generated cash through tower sales in recent months.
In March, it confirmed 2,227 towers would be sold to Helios in four African markets after announcing divestments in November of last year. Mobile money has also brought in additional funds, following an investment from Mastercard and a partnership with MoneyGram International.
As a result, operating profit increased 24.2% to $1.119 billion in reported currency, and by 32.8% in constant currency. Free cash flow was $647 million, up 42.8% on the prior year.
The 14.2% increase saw revenue total $3.9 billion, with Q4 growth of 15.4%.
Constant currency underlying revenue growth was 19.4%, with Q4 growth of 21.7% and the growth was recorded across all regions – Nigeria up 21.9%, East Africa up 23.5% and Francophone Africa up 10% - and across key services – voice up 11.0%, data up 31.2% and mobile money up 35.5%.
Thanking employees and partners, CEO Raghunath Mandava (pictured), said: "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 $2.65bn, as well as bringing $300m into the Group. We have also agreed to sell more of our tower portfolio, yielding yet more cash for the business.
"The Covid 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," he added.
Airtel reported customer base growth of 6.9% to 118.2 million, with increased penetration across mobile data (customer base up 14.5%) and mobile money services (customer base up 18.5%). The recent slowdown in customer base growth has been due to new SIM registration regulations in Nigeria.
The board recommended a final dividend of 2.5 cents per share, taking the total dividend for FY21 to 4 cents per share.
Mandava said: "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," he concluded.