Airtel Africa, the leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries in Africa, primarily in East Africa and Central and West Africa has released her financial result for the first quarter of the year. The result has continued to deliver double-digit revenue growth and a resilient margin.
In the period under review, the total customer base grew by 9.0% to 140.0 million, as the penetration of mobile data and mobile money services continued to rise, driving a 16.9% increase in data customers to 54.6 million and a 20.4% increase in mobile money customers to 31.5 million. Also Constant currency ARPU growth of 7.4% was largely driven by increased usage across voice, data and mobile money while mobile money transaction value increased by 41.3%, with Q4’23 annualised transaction value exceeding $102bn in constant currency.
- Revenue in constant currency grew by 17.6%, with revenues growing by 11.5% to $5,255m in reported currency.
- While each segment’s reported currency revenue growth was impacted by currency devaluation, they all delivered double-digit constant currency revenue growth. Across the Group mobile service revenue grew by 16.2% in constant currency, driven by voice revenue growth of 11.8% and data revenue growth of 23.8%. Mobile money revenue grew by 29.6% in constant currency.
- Underlying EBITDA increased by 17.3% in constant currency, and 11.4% in reported currency to $2,575m, with an underlying EBITDA margin of 49.0%, reflecting the resilience of our operating model despite inflationary cost pressures.
- Profit after tax was $750m, a decrease of only $5m, after including a higher foreign exchange and derivative losses of $245m.
- Basic EPS at 17.7 cents was up by 5.2% due to higher operating profits and exceptional items gain on deferred tax credit recognition in Kenya, the DRC and Tanzania partially offset by higher foreign exchange and derivative losses. EPS before exceptional items was 13.6 cents, a reduction of 15.0%, largely due to higher foreign exchange and derivative losses of $245m. EPS before exceptional items and excluding foreign exchange and derivative losses was 20.6 cents, up by 13.4%.
- Capex increased by 14.0% to $748m, in line with our guidance, as we continue to invest for future growth. Additionally, we acquired spectrum in Nigeria, the DRC, Tanzania, Zambia and Kenya during the year.
- In July 2022, the Group prepaid $450m of outstanding external debt at HoldCo. The remaining debt at HoldCo is now $550m, falling due in May 2024. Cash at the holding companies was $398m. Leverage was at 1.4x in March 2023, broadly stable despite $500m of spectrum investment during the year.
- The Board has recommended a final dividend of 3.27 cents per share, making the total dividend for FY’23 5.45 cents per share, an increase of 9% in line with our progressive dividend policy.
Olusegun Ogunsanya, chief executive officer, on the trading update:
“Over the last year, the operating environment has been challenging in many ways, yet our strategic focus on providing reliable, affordable and accessible services across our markets has enabled us to sustain our top-line growth momentum. The resilience of our underlying EBITDA margins has shown the effectiveness of our operating model, despite significant inflationary and foreign exchange pressures. Strong customer and ARPU growth over the year demonstrates that demand for our services remains very strong and gives us the confidence to continue investing to support our future growth potential. Over the year, we invested $500m on additional spectrum, including 5G, across many of our OpCos which, combined with our capex, will underpin our growth ambitions. Despite this investment, and driven by a disciplined capital allocation policy, our balance sheet remains strong and has been further de-risked over the last year by the prepayment of $450m HoldCo debt in July last year. Currencies across our footprint have been under pressure, and the impact from the revaluation of our foreign currency denominated liabilities provided some headwinds in the last financial year. While currency devaluation is not in our control, we have plans to continue to mitigate its impact by growing our revenues at a faster pace than devaluation, with double-digit revenue growth in reported currency delivered this year and as we continue to reduce our foreign currency exposure across our balance sheet.
Our six-pillar strategy continues to provide the basis for stakeholder value creation by facilitating continued expansion of our services to enhance both digital and financial inclusion across Africa. This strategy will continue and will be underpinned by our sustainability strategy as articulated in our Sustainability Report published in October 2022.
I am pleased with this year’s performance and wish to thank all our customers, business partners, governments and regulators for their support and our employees for their consistent contribution to the business’ success. The macro-economic outlook remains volatile, but we are well positioned to deliver against the growth opportunities these markets offer, with a continued focus on margin resilience.”
Carl Cruz, Airtel Nigeria CEO:
“The results of the year ended March 2023, place Airtel Africa in an optimistic footing and Nigeria, being one of the most vibrant countries in the Group’s operations, is in a vantage position to capitalise on 5G technology, an energetic subscriber base, and the growing adoption of mobile money services, while we continue to promote the Group’s sustainability commitments.”