Airtel renews spectrum licence in Nigeria, pays N71.6 billion
Telecommunications firm, Airtel Nigeria, has renewed its spectrum licence in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands for a period of 10 years effective December 1, 2021, until November 30, 2031.
Airtel said the renewal is the sequel to its application to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which it (Commission) subsequently approved.
The telecommunications said in a statement that under the terms of the spectrum licences it paid N71.611 billion ($189 million) as renewal fees.
The Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Africa, Raghunath Mandava, was quoted: “I am pleased to announce that our application in Nigeria to renew our spectrum licences in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands for a ten-year period has been approved by the NCC.
“This is our largest market and we remain focused on bridging the digital divide and expanding our broadband capability in the country. On behalf of Airtel Nigeria and the Group, I would like to thank both the government of Nigeria and the NCC for their cooperation and support in this important process.”
In its nine-month period December 31, 2020, released on the Nigerian Stock Exchange on January 29, Airtel Africa Plc reported revenue increase by 13.8 per cent to $2,870 million and Q3’20 reported revenue growth of 19.5 per cent.
According to the Bharti Airtel-owned company, which NCC claimed has 57 million subscribers and 27.58 per cent penetration in Nigeria, constant currency underlying revenue growth was 18.6 per cent, with Q3’20 growth of 22.8 per cent.
The firm disclosed that growth for the nine months was recorded across all regions: Nigeria up 21.6 per cent, East Africa up 23.4 per cent, and Francophone Africa up 8.0 per cent; and across all services, with voice revenue up 10.4 per cent, data up 31.1 per cent, and mobile money up 34.2 per cent.
Airtel said its underlying EBITDA for the nine months at $1,297 million, up 16 per cent in reported currency while constant currency underlying EBITDA growth was 22.5 per cent.
It stressed that the underlying Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) margin for the nine months was 45.5 per cent, up by 118 bps (up 144 bps in constant currency). Q3’21 underlying EBITDA margin was 46.9 per cent.
It added that operating profit increased by 21.8 per cent to $800 million in reported currency, and by 29.9 per cent in constant currency. It stressed that free cash flow was $466 million, up 20 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Commenting on the trading update, Mandava said: “Our nine-month performance reflects both the resilience of our business model through the COVID-19 pandemic and, for the last six months, a continued improvement in our execution and performance as lockdown restrictions have eased across our countries of operation. I am particularly pleased with our performance in the latest third quarter, which has demonstrated accelerated growth in both revenue and underlying EBITDA in constant currency to 22.8 per cent and 28.3 per cent respectively.
“In part, this is due to our continued delivery of strong customer growth in Q3, despite the introduction mid-December of additional customer registration requirements in Nigeria. This has meant a temporary halt to the ability of all operators in the country to onboard new customers. But we are working closely with the government to ensure that all our subscribers provide their valid National Identification Numbers (NINs) and update their SIM registration records, such that disruption is minimised.”
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