MTN Group CEO Rob Shuter (pictured) pointed to growth across Nigeria, Ghana and its home market of South Africa in the first half of 2018, although the company’s profit continued to be hit by outside influences.

The operator group reported a drop of 5 per cent year-on-year in its H1 net profit to ZAR4.9 billion ($366 million) on revenue of ZAR62.7 billion.

Earnings were heavily impacted by a 30 per cent decline in profit from its 49 per cent stake in MTN Irancell. This was partly due to a weakening of the Iranian rial after the US announced in May it would reintroduce sanctions on the country.

MTN said the sanctions, the first wave of which came into effect this month, may limit its ability to repatriate cash – including its dividend – from the country going forward.

Aside from issues in Iran, the group – which operates across Africa and the Middle East – said it had suffered from challenging macroeconomic conditions in South Africa and Cameroon during the six-month period.

MTN Group reported growth in service revenue driven by voice and data. Its digital division revenue also expanded, by 7.6 per cent year-on-year, largely based on an increase in mobile money usage.

Mobile money revenue increased by more than 50 per cent year-on-year, with 24.1 million users subscribed to the mobile money service across 14 markets at end-June.

In its earnings statement, Shuter said: “MTN had an encouraging first half of 2018, with an acceleration in the second quarter, supported by an improved operational performance across many markets. This was led by Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.

“Service revenue growth increased, driven by robust voice revenue growth and the continued expansion of data and digital revenue.”