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Airtel Africa reports bumper first half earnings

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Airtel Africa had a bumper first half with profit after tax more than doubling to $335 million. Revenue for the six months to September 30, 2021, also grew by 25.2% to $2.27 billion with double digit growth across all regions.

The telco, which operates in 14 countries across Africa, reported revenue growth of 32.4% in Nigeria, East Africa's revenue rose 25.8% and Francophone Africa increased 22.1%. Data revenue grew 36.9% while voice revenue increased 19.7%.

Airtel is seeing success in its mobile financial services in Africa, with plans to spin off and list the financial services unit within four years. For the half year the mobile money customer base grew 19% to 23.9 million and mobile money revenue jumped 42% to $259 million.

Overall customers also increased by 5.4% to 122.7 million, and data customers rose almost 11% for the half. Airtel said the customer base growth was affected by the new SIM registration regulations in Nigeria and excluding Nigeria the customer base would have grown by 13.7%.

Airtel Africa's new CEO Segun Ogunsanya still sees huge potential across voice, data and mobile money from low penetration levels across Africa.

"The continent continues to be a growth story for us despite the pandemic. We will continue to invest in mobile and digital technologies to drive digital and financial inclusion sustainably in Africa. I am pleased with the progress we have made in the last couple of years on delivering value to everyone touched by our network," he said.

Ogunsanya took over as CEO at the beginning of October, replacing long-serving leader, Raghunath Mandava, who retired.

"Operationally we have continued our network modernization and expansion, aligned with an extension of our distribution capabilities, which have together contributed towards continued strong growth in ARPUs across voice, data and mobile money. We have seen an improvement in our customer growth trends for the Group as we approach stability of net monthly movements in Nigeria," he added.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), a key earnings measure for telecoms operators, jumped 35.2% to almost $1.1 billion.

The board has declared an interim dividend of two US cents per share.

Alongside the results the group also launched a new sustainability strategy which includes goals for digital and financial inclusion, access to education as well as specific goals around environmental protection including cutting its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero before 2050.

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* Top image is of new Airtel Africa CEO Segun Ogunsanya (Source: Airtel Africa)

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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