Airtel Africa has announced a 21.7 per cent growth in profit before tax in its regional units, in the three months to December 2018, as the telecom's cost-cutting measures begin to pay off.
Profits rose to $112 million compared with $92 million over the same period in 2017.
The Indian telecommunications giant, in its latest financial report released this week, said its Africa revenue rose by 12.1 per cent to $314 million in the period under review, compared with $280 million in the corresponding quarter in 2017, largely driven by growth in the customer base.
“The African unit grew by 11.2 per cent. We also recorded a 61 per cent growth in data traffic, while the voice minutes increased by 25 per cent, and Airtel Money year-on-year throughput grew by 29 per cent. We continue to invest further in our LTE network to enhance customer experience and build a competitive advantage,” said the chief executive of Airtel Africa, Raghunath Mandava.
The firm pumped more than $65 million into its East Africa units, primarily on network expansion, and reported a shrinkage of its operating free cash flow for the quarter to $47 million, from $76 million in the corresponding quarter in 2017.
The customer base of the units — Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia — rose to 42.5 million in the three months to December 2018, up from 35.1 million in the same period in 2017, reflecting a growth of 21.3 per cent.
“The voice revenue of $172 million reflects a growth of 6.9 per cent compared with $161 million in the corresponding quarter in 2017, driven largely by minutes on network growth of 32.5 per cent at 30 billion as compared with 22.7 billion over the same period in 2017,” Airtel said.
Data revenue in the six countries also rose to $75 million, reflecting a growth of 16 per cent, compared with $64 million in the same period in 2017.