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Airtel Africa reports growth despite currency headwinds

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Bharti Airtel’s subsidiary Airtel Africa released its financial results for the nine months that ended on December 31, 2023, and despite having difficulties with the currency and other issues, the company showed noteworthy improvement in key performance measures.

Over the nine months, Airtel Africa saw notable growth in its overall user base, increasing by 9.1% to achieve the milestone of 151.2 million customers. The company credited the strong performance in mobile money and data services for the growth, with mobile money customers rising by 19.5 percent to 37.5 million and data customers rising by 22.4 percent to 62.7 million.

Driven by heightened usage across all segments, Airtel Africa reported a noteworthy 10.0 percent growth in constant currency Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). Additionally, mobile money transaction value soared by 41.3 percent in constant currency, reaching an annualized transaction value of USD 116 billion in reported currency.

However, despite the positive operational performance, Airtel Africa faced challenges in its financials, as reflected in its earnings statement. The company reported a Profit after Tax of USD 2 million for the nine-month period, primarily impacted by significant foreign exchange headwinds. Notably, the devaluation of the Nigerian naira and the Malawian kwacha resulted in a USD 330 million exceptional loss after tax.

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In his statement, Olusegun Ogunsanya, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Africa, emphasized the company’s focus on executing its growth strategy amidst inflationary and currency challenges. Ogunsanya highlighted the resilient demand for voice, data, and mobile money services across the region, contributing to a strong 20.2 percent constant currency revenue growth over the period.

Despite the challenges posed by rising diesel prices, ongoing currency devaluation, and inflationary pressures, Airtel Africa remains committed to margin resilience and capitalizing on growth opportunities within its markets.

The financial results for the third quarter ended December 31 showed a Profit before Tax of USD 43 million compared to USD 285 million for the same period the previous year. Revenue for the quarter declined to USD 1.24 billion from USD 1.35 billion, with voice revenue falling by 16.8 percent and data revenue by 5.9 percent. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) slipped to USD 606 million compared to USD 661 million.

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