Airtel Africa recorded an earnings spike that helped its after-tax profit almost double to more than half a billion dollars in the nine months to December, according to its unaudited earnings report issued on Friday.
Revenue leapt 21.7 per cent to $3.5 billion, drawing support from its data business, whose contribution to turnover in constant currency approached one-third of Airtel’s turnover.
A rapid acceptance of mobile money services in its Nigerian, East African and Francophone Africa markets means earnings from that income source, now at $406 million, accelerated at the rate 37.2 per cent when set beside the figure posted a year earlier.
The future of earnings for the telco will be substantially shaped by its mobile money business which, having been spun off from its regular operation after hitting a valuation of $2.65 billion last March, pooled $550 million from investors as varied as Mastercard, Qatar Investment Authority, Chimera Investment LLC and San Francisco-based TPG in less than nine months.
Profit before tax for the period stood at $894 million compared to the $482 million posted in the relative period of 2020.
Profit after tax spiralled by 97.3 per cent to $514 million. It was $261 million a year earlier.
The chief executive officer, Airtel Africa, Segun Ogunsanya in a statement said, “A strong third quarter has contributed to a pleasing nine-month financial performance across all key metrics.
Operationally we have continued to execute on our network and distribution expansion plans, driving continued strong growth in ARPUs across voice, data and mobile money.
“We have also seen further improvement in our customer growth trends for the Group with Nigeria returning to strong customer growth after a period affected by the implementation of new ‘know your customer’ requirements, posting 1.9 million net additions in the third quarter, taking total Group customer additions to 3.1 million.
“I am particularly pleased with developments in Nigeria, where in November we received approval in principle for both a payment service bank (mobile money) licence and a super-agent licence.
“We are now working closely with the Central Bank to meet all its conditions to receive the final operating licences and commence operations. This will enable us to expand our digital financial products and reach the millions of Nigerians that do not have access to traditional financial services.
“We continued to strengthen our balance sheet, with our leverage ratio now 1.4 times underlying EBITDA, thanks both to continued increases in operating cash flow delivery and to over $550millon of cash that has now been received from minority investments into our mobile money business.
“We will continue to invest in expanding and evolving our platform to further deepen both financial and digital inclusion across Africa. I continue to see huge growth potential across voice, data and mobile money and our strategy is delivering against this opportunity.
“Our sustained investments in both network and distribution expansion will help to ensure that both the communities and economies across our footprint will continue to benefit from increased and affordable connectivity and financial inclusion.
“We are committed to continue to improve the delivery of our services to our customers, with sustainability at the heart of our continued purpose to transform lives across Africa.”
Airtel Africa’s stock jumped 9.99 per cent to N1,398 per unit in Lagos at 10:54 in Lagos on Friday, following the news.