A net profit of $142 million in the recent quarter, almost doubling profit year-on-year, inspired a fairly positive report from Airtel Africa, the pan-African business of Indian telecoms giant Airtel.
Airtel Africa’s reported revenue for the quarter ended 30 June 2021 grew by 30.7 percent to $1,112 million, with constant currency growth of 33.1 percent. This revenue growth partially benefitted from a weakened quarter a year earlier, when Covid-19 restrictions were in effect across Africa. However, even after adjusting for these effects, revenue growth rates for the group, service segments and reporting regions were all ahead of the trends in the preceding quarter to this one.
Strong revenue growth was recorded across all regions – Nigeria was up 38.2 percent, East Africa up 32.8 percent and Francophone Africa up 24.9 percent – and across key services, with revenues for voice up 26.0 percent, data up 37.4 percent and mobile money up 53.7 percent.
On the effect of Covid-19, Raghunath Mandava, CEO, was fairly positive, saying: “Sub-Saharan Africa is now experiencing a third wave of the pandemic. Governments are implementing balanced measures of lockdowns and restrictions. But vaccinations levels remain very low. In these challenging times our business model has so far proven resilient, but we continue to monitor the situation closely for the potential impact on local economies and consumers.”
On the general growth of the company, he said, “Our total customer base has returned to growth with acceleration in our East Africa and Francophone regions and despite continuing negative net additions in Nigeria.”
A slowdown in the company’s customer base growth (it grew by 8.4 percent to 120.8 million), was due to new SIM registration regulations in Nigeria, it seems; excluding Nigeria the customer base grew by 15.9 percent.
Mandava said: “With the easing of these restrictions in late April we have since been able to gradually increase locations for activations in line with regulatory compliance across Nigeria, and we have begun adding new customers.”
Overall, therefore, the CEO was upbeat. “We continue to see huge potential across voice, data and mobile money due to the low penetration levels in Africa, as we continue to partner the nations in bridging the digital divide and enhancing financial inclusion,” he said.