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.

Digital Inclusion

Airtel Africa Provides Some Solace for Bharti in Q1

Article Image
Bharti Airtel's woes in India continued in the three months to June 30, 2017 as the operator reported its smallest profit in 18 quarters, but the group's African operations again showed positive progress with slightly higher revenue and a second consecutive profitable quarter.

In US dollars (at constant currency rates), Airtel Africa was able to increase underlying revenue by 1.5% year-on-year to $736 million in the first quarter of the 2017/18 financial year. The operator noted that its continued focus on costs and efficiencies resulted in a lower operating expenditure of $381 million compared with $422 million in the corresponding quarter last year.

EBITDA also rose from $151 million to $206 million with an improved EBITDA margin of 28% compared to 20.6% in the previous year, while net income for the quarter was $52 million compared with a loss of $78 million in the corresponding quarter last year.

Raghunath Mandava, MD and CEO of Airtel Africa, partly attributed the positive performance to "the data story in Africa," which he said is "unfolding well" with data consumption increasing by 75% and data revenues by 11.3% to $138 million on a year-on-year basis. Mobile data revenues now represent 18.7% of total mobile revenues, up from 16.9% a year ago.

Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) revamped its African operations during the 2016/17 financial year in an effort to improve its financial performance and, as part of that strategy, it sold its operations in two countries, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone, to Orange. (See Orange Buys Airtel Ops in Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone.)

As a result of the divestments, Airtel now offers 3G and Airtel Money services in 15 African countries -- Nigeria, Chad, Congo B, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda. At the end of June, it had just over 80 million mobile customers -- broadly in line with the previous quarter and 4% up on the previous year. Including India and South Asia, Bharti Airtel's total mobile customer base stood at 362.7 million, up 2% on a quarterly basis and 6.1% higher year on year.

The operator had 20,377 mobile sites in Africa at the end of June (up from 19,551 a year earlier), of which 13,888 are 3G sites (up from 13,058 sites a year earlier).

The latest quarterly results certainly indicate a continuing improvement in Bharti's African operations following the positive development in the previous year. (See African Revamp Has Paid Off, Reports Airtel.)

Following last year's revamp, further changes to Airtel's African operations are in the works: The operator has agreed to combine its operations in Ghana with those of fellow pan-African operator Millicom. Once that deal has received regulatory approval, each company will have equal ownership in the resulting joint venture.

Furthermore, Bharti Airtel is also reported to be one of the operators in the race to buy 9mobile, the former Etisalat Nigeria, in a bid to boost its operations in this important market for the group. Other interested parties are said to include Orange, Virgin, Vodafone, Vodacom and Nigerian industrial group BUA. (See Virgin Mobile, Vodacom Emerge as Potential 9mobile Investors – Reports.)

Despite continuing rumors that Bharti Airtel may eventually quit the continent altogether, for now Airtel's management appears to be committed to its operations in Africa and continuing to improve its financial performance in the region.

Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Hot startup of the month: South Africa's Botlhale AI

Connecting Africa's hot startup this month is South Africa's Botlhale AI, which creates conversational AI tools for African languages while helping businesses engage customers in languages they understand and trust.


SA's Teraco to power data centers with 120MW solar plant

Teraco, the vendor-neutral data center provider, is planning the construction of a 120 megawatt (MW) utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) energy facility in the Free State province of South Africa.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Upcoming events

Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Africa Tech Perspectives


Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.


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.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: January 2024

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in January 2024 in the Middle East and Africa included a $200 million fintech deal between MTN and Mastercard as well as 5G network trials by Telecom Egypt – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: September 2023

By Omdia Analysts

Highlights in September 2023 in the Middle East and Africa included more 5G spectrum licenses, vendor and operator strategies, and partnerships – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up
Tag id test-002