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Africa looks bright for Airtel as its fortunes wane in India

Africa looks bright for Airtel as its fortunes wane in India

Fierce competition in India meant that Bharti Airtel saw its net income fall in its fiscal Q3 despite improved fortunes in Africa and a boost in 4G uptake in its home market.

Its net income was down 72% year-on-year to INR860 million ($12 million) on revenue of INR205 billion – a drop that would have been even more pronounced had it not been boosted by a one-off INR10 million arising from changes to the accounting for its Payments Bank.

Airtel stated that “sustained pricing pressure” had caused mobile revenue from India to slump 4% year-on-year even though its total 4G connections had increased along with overall data usage. Its digital TV and business units in India had also seen revenue gains.

CEO Gopal Vittal said: “Our simplified product portfolio and premium content partnerships have played out well during the quarter.” Nonetheless, spiralling income seems to have become the norm as India’s price war rages on – Airtel saw a similar drop in profits in its fiscal Q2 results.

Africa is a brighter spot for Airtel, with revenue up 11% year-on-year to INR60.8 billion. Its Airtel Money service has seen increased uptake, with 13.8 million active users at the end of December – an increase of 32% on the previous year.

The value of transactions sent via Airtel Money is also up, rising by 29% on the previous year. During the quarter, $6.9 billion was sent via the service. Meanwhile, data usage was up 61% across Airtel’s African operations, with the number of data connections rising by 26%.

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