Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


Africa the Bright Spot for Bharti Airtel

Article Image
India's Bharti Airtel might be facing competitive and regulatory pressures in its domestic market, but its African operations are performing well, the operator noted in its fiscal fourth quarter earnings report covering the three months to the end of March 2018.

Overall, Airtel's revenues and profit margins are on the slide. (See Fierce Competition Batters Airtel Profits Again.)

But in the 14 countries in Africa where Bharti Airtel has mobile network operations -- Nigeria, Chad, Congo B, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Kenya, Malawi, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda (boosted by the recent acquisition of Tigo Rwanda, a deal that closed on February 1) -- the trends are positive. (See Airtel Snaps Up Tigo Rwanda.)

The number of mobile customers across all 14 markets reached 89.3 million at the end of March this year, up from 84.1 million at the end of 2017 and from 80 million at the end of March 2017. (Globally, Bharti Airtel has 413.8 million mobile customers.)

Revenues increased by 10.7% year-on-year to US$791 million, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) grew by 56% to $284 million, giving Airtel Africa an EBITDA margin of 35.9%. Those are the kinds of numbers that will help the company find support for its IPO plans to list the African operations on a stock exchange. (See Is There an Appetite for an African Mobile IPO?.)

And the operator continues to invest significantly in its networks. Currently Airtel offers 3G and Airtel Money services across all 14 markets in Africa, while 4G services are offered in eight. The operator is expanding its networks and adding more 4G coverage, a strategy that lead to an 81% year-on-year increase in capex to $250 million. Those investments hit Airtel Africa's operating free cash flow (EBITDA less capex), which dipped by 23% to $34 million but ultimately those investments will deliver meaningful returns.

Raghunath Mandava, Managing Director and CEO at Airtel Africa, noted in a prepared statement: "We continue to focus on expanding our revenue base, underpinned by strong investments in networks and contain costs… Airtel Africa's revenues grew by 10.7% on a year-on-year basis. Data traffic grew 88%, voice minutes increased by 37% and Airtel Money throughput grew by 45% on a year-on-year basis."

Raghunath Mandava, Managing Director and CEO at Airtel Africa: 'We continue to focus on expanding our revenue base, underpinned by strong investments in networks and contain costs.'
Raghunath Mandava, Managing Director and CEO at Airtel Africa: "We continue to focus on expanding our revenue base, underpinned by strong investments in networks and contain costs."

Airtel Africa ended March 2018 with more than 20,000 mobile broadband base stations across Africa, a significant increase from the 13,000 active a year earlier. And in the past year the company has increased the number of mobile network towers it has across Africa by 772 to 19,731.

The number of customers signed up for mobile data services has increased by 48% year-on-year to 24.9 million (nearly 28% of the total customer base), while the volume of data traffic running over the networks during the quarter has increased by more than 88% during the past year to 69.7 billion Mbytes. Average data consumed per customer increased by 30% year-on-year to 963 Mbytes.

The number of customers using the Airtel Money platform increased by 30.9% year-on-year to 11.5 million. The total number of transactions during the quarter increased by 34.5% to 499 million, while the total value of transactions on the Airtel money platform grew by 44.8% to $5.6 billion.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.

Innovation hub


Interview: Juliet Ehimuan on Africa's next wave of innovation

Juliet Ehimuan, founder and CEO of Beyond Limits Africa and ex-MD of Google West Africa, spoke to Connecting Africa about the next wave of innovation in Africa and the continent's digital future.


InDrive enters Zimbabwe's Bulawayo

Ride-sharing platform InDrive is expanding its services to Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo after successfully introducing its services in the capital of Harare in May this year.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Sponsored video

More videos

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Africa Tech Perspectives


The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.


Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

Nextv Series Africa
October 4-5, 2023
Hotel Sky Sandton, Johannesburg
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Flash poll

All polls

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: August 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in August 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included a commercial 5G launch from Ethio Telecom and the signing of a virtual wheeling agreement between Vodacom South Africa and Eskom – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up
Tag id I-0000192