Telecoms operators record 22.3% revenue growth
Airtel and MTN Nigeria grew their service revenues by an average of 22.3 per cent in their 2023 half-year (H1) operations.
Specifically, Airtel said its mobile services revenue in Nigeria was up by 23 per cent, while MTN recorded 21.6 per cent to N1.2 trillion.
According to MTN in its unaudited results for the half-year ended June 30, said in the first six months of the year, mobile subscribers increased by four per cent to 77.1 million and added 1.5 million subscribers in H1.
MTN said its active data users increased by 11.5 per cent to 41 million and added 1.5 million active users in the period under review. The firm’s active mobile money (MoMo PSB) wallets increased by 1.1 million in H1 to 3.1 million.
The firm’s Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) grew by 20.6 per cent to N614.5 billion as the margin declined by 0.6 percentage points to 53 per cent.
MTN’s Profit before tax (PBT) declined by 25.4 per cent to N200.4 billion (up 17.6 per cent to N331.8 billion, adjusted for the unrealised foreign exchange (forex) loss, while Earnings per share (EPS) was down by 29.3 per cent to N6.33 kobo (up 13.4 per cent to N10.66 kobo adjusted for the unrealised forex loss).
The firm’s capital expenditure (capex) declined by 14.4 per cent to N266.8 billion (down 13.8 per cent to N176.3 billion, excluding the right-of-use assets), while the interim dividend maintained at N5.60 kobo per share from the prior year.
For Airtel, it explained that PBT was negative ($151 million) largely driven by $570 million of foreign exchange and derivative losses because of the revaluation of foreign currency liabilities in the OpCos.
Airtel said the devaluation of the naira in June 2023 (from 465 to 752 NGN/USD) resulted in a foreign exchange loss of $471 million before tax and $317 million after-tax, stressing that the impact of the naira devaluation has been classified as a non-operating exceptional item.
The firm said EBITDA increased to $682 million, up by 11.1 per cent in reported currency, and by 22.5 per cent in constant currency. It disclosed that growth in EBITDA was led by revenue growth and supported by continued improvement in operating efficiencies, which more than offset inflationary cost pressures. It added that the EBITDA margin improved by 69 basis points in reported currency to 49.5 per cent.
Commenting, MTN Nigeria Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, said the progress made by the firm, drove commercial operations underpinned the solid growth in service revenue and EBITDA margin in line with “our medium-term guidance. Our service revenue rose by 21.6 per cent led by double-digit growth in voice, data and digital services. Our ability to maintain service revenue growth and unlock efficiencies through the disciplined execution of our expense efficiency programme led to a 20.6 per cent growth in EBITDA while the EBITDA margin was 53 per cent, down marginally by 0.6pp.
On his part, Airtel Africa CEO, Olusegun Ogunsanya, said: “We expect the FX reforms to improve liquidity over time, thereby alleviating the challenges faced by international businesses over the last few years associated with accessing US dollars and thus hindering accelerated growth. However, in the reporting period, the devaluation has had a material impact on our results. Over the last few years, we have actively reduced our FX exposure across the Group, and this will continue to be a focus area in the future to limit the impact of any future devaluation.
“Our focus remains on areas which we can control: the provision of reliable telecom and mobile money services, at affordable rates across our 14 sub-Saharan markets in Africa where demand for these services remains significant. The excellent operating performance over the last quarter highlights this success, and we are well positioned to deliver against the growth opportunities these markets offer, with a continued focus on margin resilience.”
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