Despite facing foreign exchange challenges, particularly in Nigeria, Airtel Africa has released a robust trading update, showcasing impressive performance across various regions in the continent. vThe total customer base surged by 9.7% to reach 147.7 million customers, driven by the growing usage of mobile data and mobile money services. This contributed to a 23.0% increase in data customers (59.8 million) and a 23.1% rise in mobile money customers (36.5 million).
There was a remarkable 9.8% growth in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) when measured in constant currency, attributable to increased usage in voice, data, and mobile money. The mobile money transaction value saw a substantial rise of 45.3% in constant currency, with an annualized transaction value of $116 billion in reported currency for Q2’24.
Also revenue in constant currency experienced a remarkable growth of 19.7%, with reported currency revenues increasing by 2.3% to $2,623 million. However, Q2’24 reported currency revenues saw a decline of 4.7%, largely influenced by the Nigerian naira devaluation in June 2023. In contrast, Q2’24 constant currency revenues surged by 19.0%.
Group Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Africa, Olusegun Ogunsanya expressed satisfaction with the company’s strong operating performance despite currency challenges. He acknowledged the resilience in voice, data, and mobile money usage, emphasizing their commitment to expanding their customer base and enhancing network usage. The company’s focus remains on long-term value enhancement, and despite challenges like rising diesel prices in Nigeria, they aim to improve EBITDA margin in FY’24 compared to FY’23.
“I am pleased to report a strong operating performance for the Group despite foreign exchange headwinds in many of our markets and specifically in Nigeria. The resilient growth in voice, data and mobile money usage levels reflects the inherent demand for these essential services across our footprint, and our six-pillar ‘win-with’ strategy continues to ensure we capture this growth opportunity by expanding our customer base and providing the platform to enable increased usage across the network. This strong momentum is supported by continued cost efficiencies which enabled further EBITDA margin expansion.
“As reported in July 2023, our results for the first quarter were significantly impacted by the changes to the FX market in Nigeria, introduced by the Central Bank. Whilst the changes are required for the long-term benefit of the Nigerian economy, the immediate impact of the naira devaluation continues to weigh on our reported financial performance in the period. Our focus remains to enhance long term value by continuing to drive sustained and efficient growth. Over the last five years, we have delivered constant currency revenue and EBITDA CAGR of 17.1% and 20.7% respectively, allowing us to further de-risk the balance sheet and improve profitability across the Group.
“Looking forward, the delivery of affordable and reliable telecom and mobile money services across our markets remains our key focus. Our strong operating performance continues to make us a stronger and bigger company, which is well positioned to deliver against the growth opportunities these markets offer. Despite the challenges of rising diesel prices in Nigeria, we aim to limit the impact with continued operational leverage and further cost efficiencies to deliver an improved EBITDA margin in FY’24 versus FY’23.”
All segments achieved double-digit constant currency revenue growth, with mobile services revenue growing by 18.3% in constant currency. This was driven by voice revenue growth of 11.5% and data revenue growth of 28.1%. Mobile money revenue also soared by 30.9% in constant currency.
EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) witnessed an impressive 21.2% increase in constant currency and a 3.7% rise in reported currency to $1,302 million, with an EBITDA margin of 49.6%.
This margin improvement occurred despite inflationary cost pressures and foreign exchange headwinds. However, reported currency EBITDA saw a decline of 3.3% in Q2’24 due to the full impact of the Nigerian naira devaluation in June 2023.
The loss after tax amounted to $13 million, primarily driven by a foreign exchange loss of $471 million recorded in finance cost before tax, and $317 million after tax due to the devaluation of the Nigerian naira in June 2023. This impact has been categorized as an exceptional item.
Meanwhile, earnings Per Share (EPS) before exceptional items improved by 3.2% to 7.0 cents. When excluding foreign exchange and derivative losses, EPS before exceptional items stood at 10.7 cents. Basic EPS, however, showed a negative (1.5 cents) compared to 7.9 cents in the prior period, largely impacted by a $317 million net exceptional loss resulting from the naira devaluation in June 2023.
Capital Expenditure (Capex) for the period reached $312 million, slightly higher compared to the previous period. The full-year Capex guidance remains between $800 million and $825 million as the company continues to invest in future growth.
The remaining debt at HoldCo amounted to $550 million, maturing in May 2024. The HoldCo held $495 million in cash at the end of the period, positioning the Group to fully repay the HoldCo debt when it matures. The leverage stood at 1.3x in September 2023, remaining stable despite the foreign exchange impact on EBITDA due to the Nigerian naira devaluation in June 2023.
The Board announced an interim dividend of 2.38 cents per share, marking a 9% increase and aligning with their progressive dividend policy.
The company’s landmark five-year $57 million partnership with UNICEF was launched across nine of their 13 markets. This initiative provides free access to educational resources for children and aims to reach one million children through their programs by 2027.