.accounts for 40% of group’s income
Buoyed by the increase in data usage driven largely by the COVID-19 pandemic, Airtel Nigeria increased its revenue by 20.2 per cent to hit US$718 million for the half-year ended September 2020. This performance lifted its parent body, Airtel Africa to a 16.4 per cent growth in revenue totaling US$1.8 billion in the period under review.
The group’s financial results released today showed that Airtel Nigeria, which is one of the 14 operation units of Airtel Africa, accounted for 40 per cent of the group’s earnings. The group’s Customer base also grew by 12 per cent to 116.4 million as of September 2020, out of which Airtel Nigeria accounted for 44.1 million, which represents 38 per cent of the group’s total customers.
A breakdown of the Nigerian operation’s financial performance for the period showed that the company’s voice revenue grew by 11.4 per cent to hit $413 million in the six months, while data revenue increased by 38.1 per cent to $257 million. Revenue from other digital services of the company also grew by 18.5 per cent to $48 million.
According to Airtel, the data revenue growth of 38.1 per cent in constant currency was supported by a 22.8 per cent growth in data customers and 17.4 per cent growth in data Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). “Data customer penetration was up from the previous period and reached 43.1 per cent as of September 2020. The data customer base growth of 22.8 per cent was a result of the expansion of 4G network, with 76 per cent of total sites now on 4G.
“The total data usage on our network grew by 89.5 per cent, almost double the previous period. 4G data usage almost tripled and now contributes to 60 per cent of the total data usage. Data usage per customer was up by 61 per cent and the data revenue accounted for 35.7 per cent of total revenue, up by 4.6ppts from 31.1 per cent in the previous period, the company stated.
Commenting on the results Airtel Africa’s Chief Executive Officer, Raghunath Mandava said: “The first half of our fiscal year included the peak impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the countries where we operate, as lockdown measures were swiftly implemented to stem the initial spread of contagion. In these unprecedented times, the telecoms industry has emerged as a key and essential service for these economies, allowing customers to work remotely, reduce their travels, keep them connected and allow access to affordable entertainment.”
“In these exceptional circumstances, in the first half, we delivered a strong set of results and as lockdown restrictions eased during Q2 our performance continued to improve with constant currency revenue growth of 19.6 per cent, up 6.6 per cent from the prior quarter. Importantly, the fundamentals of our business remain strong and revenue growth further benefitted from the execution of our strategy with a specific focus on expanding distribution in the rural areas, investing in our network, and increasing 4G coverage, as well as benefitting from the fact we provide an essential service to consumers,” he added.
Mandava noted that in Q2, the group also recorded improved performance in its mobile money business with constant currency revenue growth of 33.9 per cent, up 8 per cent from the prior quarter, as lockdown restrictions were eased and fees on certain transactions, which had been previously waived, were largely reintroduced.
“We also continued to enter new partnerships with leading institutions such as WorldRemit, MoneyGram, Standard Chartered Bank, and Mukuru to increase use cases and improve customers’ access to digital payments and financial services. We remain alert to the potential for further disruptions from a second wave of COVID-19 across Africa, and the associated actions of governments to minimise contagion. Nevertheless, we are in a strong financial position to capture the opportunities in a fast-growing region that is vastly underpenetrated in terms of mobile and banking services. We remain confident of delivering long term sustained growth for our shareholders,” he said.