Airtel’s Africa Business Reports Positive Profit for the First Time Ever

Indian telecommunications company Bharti Airtel has reported a profit of $6 million from African operations for the fourth quarter from a loss of $57 million a year ago, on the back of growth in the data customer base and consumption, while overall revenue growth was helped by currency stabilization in most markets.

The mobile carrier’s Africa revenue climbed 2.6% to $888 million in the three months ended March from $872 million a year earlier. The financial year 2016-17 becomes the first first full year that was positive on profit before tax level.

Raghunath Mandava, chief operating officer of Airtel Africa, said that revenue growth for the quarter was 4.4% in constant currency terms during FY 16-17 with net revenues up a healthy 5.0% as it shed unprofitable lines. Data consumption and revenues have grown by 95.5% & 23.5% respectively in the just ended fiscal.

“Our efforts to deliver a profitable business model for Africa have resulted in EBITDA growth of 36.0% with margin expanding by +500 basis points on an underlying basis in FY 16-17. For the first time ever, African operation has delivered positive PBT (profit before tax) in the financial year (constant currency),” Mandava said in a statement .

In the last quarter ended March this year, Bharti Airtel and Millicom International signed an agreement to combine their operations in Ghana through their respective subsidiaries, Airtel Ghana Limited and Tigo Ghana Limited, where the final entity will have equal ownership and governance rights from both parties. The deal closure is subject to customary regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

Over the last fiscal, sale of Airtel operations in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone to Orange were closed, and sale and lease back of 1,510 towers in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Niger was also completed. With this, the company has sold and leased back 10,450 towers in 10 countries.

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Sources; Economic Times of India, Airtel