Airtel Africa reported rapid revenue growth from mobile money and data services across its operations, though a one-off tax payment to Nigerian authorities blunted net profit in its first annual results since IPO.

In its fiscal year to end-March, the company booked a year-on-year jump of 36 per cent in data revenue to $930 million, and a 33 per cent rise in takings from mobile money to $311 million. Across its business revenue increased 11 per cent to $3.4 billion.

Net profit fell 4.4 per cent to $408 million due to the settlement of a tax payment in Nigeria, which had been deferred from its previous fiscal year. Without this, the company noted profit would have been up 17 per cent.

Airtel Africa CEO Raghunath Mandava said the company delivered a strong set of results in its financial year and goes into a period of “increased volatility” as a result of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) in a strong financial position.

“In Africa, the spread of the Covid-19 has lagged the rest of the world and, therefore, it is difficult to precisely forecast what the impact of this will be on customers and business,” he added. “However, our performance during the month of April has been resilient as the business continued to deliver constant-currency revenue growth, although at a lower rate.”

The company introduced a number of measures to offset the impact of virus-mitigation measures on users. These include cutting transaction fees on selected mobile money services, offering free text messages and increasing data allowances for some users.

Money growth
Mandava added he remained confident on the medium term opportunities for the business, which include taking advantage of the low data penetration rate in many of its markets and scaling its mobile money operation.

Among its targets in mobile financial services is to increase its footprint across kiosks, mini shops and Airtel Money stores; add new services including loans and savings; and ink further partner agreements for international transfers.

Airtel Africa covers 14 markets including Nigeria, Kenya, Gabon and The Democratic Republic of the Congo. It conducted an IPO on the London Stock Exchange in July 2019.