Airtel Africa, a subsidiary of Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel, has reported revenue of USD3.42 billion for the year ended 31 March 2020, up by 11.2% year-on-year. Underlying EBITDA for the period was USD1.52 billion – an increase of 13.8% year-on-year – whilst operating profit grew by 22.8% to USD901 million. Net profit dipped by 4.4% y-o-y to USD408 million, however, as a result of a 343.7% increase in tax costs, from a net benefit of USD78 million in the year to March 2019 to a loss of USD190 million in period under review. In terms of subscribers, the operator counted a total of 110.6 million users across its 14 markets, compared to 98.9 million a year earlier, and including 35.4 million data users – up from 30.0 million in March 2019. Airtel also reported an unchanged average monthly ARPU of USD2.7.
Airtel Africa also unveiled a new strategic plan which looks to focus on six key areas with a view to capitalising on the low penetration levels and high potential for growth in its markets, with the provider claiming that unique user penetration across its footprint was around 45%. Its six strategic pillars are: ‘Win with network’, ‘Win with customers’, ‘Win with data’, ‘Win with mobile money’, ‘Win with cost’ and ‘Win with people’. Win with network covers the company’s investment in infrastructure development and upgrades, in particular 4G networks. The group claims that 65% of its sites were 4G-capabale and, following 4G launches in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Niger during the twelve months to 31 March 2020, it now offers 4G services in each of it 14 markets. Airtel also invested in its fibre networks, adding 8,000km of cabling during the year under review. In a similar vein, the Win with data strategic pillar looks to leverage the 4G network to offer competitive data services, promote smartphone penetration and to develop its home broadband business. Greater take-up of its larger data bundles saw average data usage per customer grow to 1.8GB in FY20 compared to 1.2GB in the preceding period. Win with customers, meanwhile, will see the company develop its distribution channels and simplify digital onboarding to ease the sign-up process. Under Win with mobile money, Airtel Africa will look to build confidence and interest in its Airtel Money service. The company notes that mobile money is Airtel Africa’s fastest-growing business segment, with turnover from the service rising by 37.2% in FY20 and contributing 9.1% of the group’s total revenue for the year. The remaining two pillars – cost and people – refer to Airtel’s efforts to enhance cost efficiencies and reduce expenses and the empowerment of local management teams to provide ‘executional agility’.