Airtel Africa has reported a 16.4% revenue growth in constant currency to $1,815 million for the half-year ended 30 September 2020 compared to $1,640 million reported in a similar period last year. Airtel says that it recorded growth in 14 markets across Eastern Africa, Francophone Africa, and Nigeria.
In this case, East Africa revenues were up 21.9% with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) growing by 35.1%. In Nigeria revenue increased 20.2% and EBITDA grew by 21.5%. Across Francophone Africa revenue was up 4.4% with EBITDA growth of 4.1%. Underlying EBITDA increased 12.8% to $812 million while constant currency underlying EBITDA growth was 19.3%.
Consequently, the operating profit increased by 19.5% to $472 million compared to$395 reported last year. The profit after tax for the period under review fell 36.6% to $145 compared to $228 recorded in a similar period last year. Free cash flow was $319 million compared to $210 million in the same period last year.
The basic earnings per share (EPS) was $3.0¢, down 52.9% largely as a result of exceptional items and a one-off derivative gain incurred in the prior year. The board declared an interim dividend of $1.5¢ per share in line with the new progressive dividend policy to focus on growth opportunities and faster deleveraging.
In the period under review, Airtel Africa recorded double-digit customer growth on 12% to 116.4 million.
In the half year, Airtel Africa subsidiary Airtel Networks Kenya Limited abandoned merger plans with Telkom Kenya Limited in August.
Airtel says that COVID-19 pandemic saw the growth and promotion of the cashless economy thus mobile money grew by 30.4% . Airtel money now serves over 20 million customers accounting for 17.3% of total customers
Drivers for the increased mobile money services include the expansion of merchant points enabling shorter distance travelled to access Airtel Money. In addition, Airtel entered into strategic partnerships with MoneyGram, Mukuru, Standard Chartered Bank, and WorldRemit enabling customers in 12 countries to transfer and receive funds across the globe directly from and into their mobile money wallets.
The telco also expanded its partnership with MasterCard to drive adoption of the digital economy across Africa.