Airtel Africa CEO Raghunath Mandava highlighted a return to normal customer behaviour as Covid-19 (coronavirus) lockdown restrictions lifted in the latter part of its fiscal Q1, as the operator booked a sharp drop in net profit due to one-off gains in 2019.

The executive noted the company had been impacted by changes in customer usage brought about by restrictions on social movement due to the pandemic, though noted these were mostly in April with trends improving in May and June.

However, he added the outlook remained uncertain, pointing to the possibility of renewed government measures in the event of a second wave of infections.

Airtel Africa’s fiscal Q1 2021 (the quarter to end-June) revenue was up 7 per cent year-on-year to $851 million. Although operating profit was up 13 per cent, its net profit dropped almost 57 per cent to $57 million, attributed to one-off items inflating its figures in the comparable period of 2019, mostly related to the IPO process.

“These results are further evidence of the growth opportunities our markets offer and the effectiveness of our strategy to focus on winning customers, investing in our network and expanding our voice, data and mobile money businesses,” Mandava added.