Coronavirus impact slows Airtel Africa subscriber growth

24 Jul 2020

Airtel Africa has published its results for three months to end-June 2020, registering a 5.3% quarter-on-quarter drop in revenue as the COVID-19 pandemic slowed subscriber growth. Turnover the quarter was USD851 million, down from USD899 million in the preceding quarter, but up from USD796 million in the June 2019 period. Similarly, EBITDA dipped by 5.5% q-o-q to USD375 million, but was up 7.8% year-on-year from USD348 million. Net income, meanwhile, fell to USD42 million from USD65 million in the previous quarter and USD125 million in the year-ago period. After substantially increasing its CAPEX in the first three months of 2020 to USD246 million – compared to USD150 million, USD147 million and USD99 million in the preceding three quarters – the group slowed its spending to USD66 million during the period under review.

The group counted a total of 111.46 million subscribers at end-June 2020, compared to 110.60 million three months earlier and 99.67 million in June 2019. Of that total, 36.97 million were mobile data customers (March 2020:35.44 million; June 2019: 30.00 million), and revenue from data services grew to USD267 million from USD197 million a year earlier. Average data usage per customer also rose, reaching 2,607MB compared to 2,145MB in the previous quarter, as did data ARPU, which grew 3.8% q-o-q to USD2.5.

Commenting on the results, CEO Raghunath Mandava noted: ‘During last quarter our business was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as restrictions on movements of people and ways of socialising were introduced to contain the spread of infection. In these unprecedented times, we have worked with governments, regulators, partners, and suppliers to keep customers and businesses connected as well as supporting the economies and communities. We focussed on expanding and maintaining our network to ensure it could cope with increasing demand, we kept our distribution up and running by increasing the penetration of digital recharges and stock levels, and we expanded our home broadband solutions to ensure customers could work and access entertainment remotely. COVID-19 impacted customer usage pattern, particularly during the month of April, however, as some of these restrictions started to be lifted, customer usage trends in May and June returned to being broadly consistent with pre COVID-19 trends …The business showed its resilience even during these unprecedent circumstances with all key business segments – voice, data and mobile money, and all regions – Nigeria, East Africa and Francophone Africa contributing to growth.’

India, Airtel Africa