MTN Group finalised a deal to sell its holdings in its subsidiary in Afghanistan, progressing a goal to exit the Middle East, and highlighted gains across fintech and growing data traffic in a quarterly trading update.

The South Africa-headquartered operator stated it had entered into an agreement with Beirut-based M1 New Ventures for the sale in Afghanistan, worth $35 million, which is now subject to regulatory approval.

MTN first said it had accepted an offer for the sale in August, but did not provide details on the buyer.

Its Middle East exit is part of wider group strategy to focus operations on Africa, which it embarked on in 2020.

In its trading update, MTN CEO and president Ralph Mupita said the operator remained resilient “under difficult macroeconomic, geopolitical and regulatory conditions, delivering a solid operational and financial performance”.

Mupita highlighted growing data traffic and fintech transaction volumes.

Data traffic grew almost 40 per cent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2022, while its mobile money base in Q3 grew 23.3 per cent to 63 million.

Fintech transactions increased by a third to 9.5 billion.

It did not issue revenue or net income figures, but noted service revenue for Q3 grew 15.6 per cent to ZAR49.6 billion ($2.7 billion), boosted by units in Nigeria and South Africa.

Fintech revenue grew 12.9 per cent and active data subscribers by 14.9 per cent to 135.4 million.

MTN ended the period with 284.9 million subscribers, up 6.8 per cent, with active mobile money customers increasing 23 per cent to 63 million.

The company also said it maintained medium-term guidance.