The data and mobile money penetration of Airtel Africa, Bharti Airtel’s African arm, is set to almost double in the next four to five years, say analysts.
Airtel is Africa’s second-largest telecom operator with 100 million mobile subscribers (as of June 2019) and has a leading position in most of its markets.
Goldman Sachs forecast a 9 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue between financial year 2018-19 (FY19) and FY24, driven by 18 per cent CAGR in data usage and 30 per cent CAGR in the Airtel money business.
The brokerage said a combination of an under-penetrated telecom market, a young addressable population and rising smartphone affordability along with low data penetration would drive the growth opportunities for Airtel Africa.
Data and mobile money segments are expected to contribute 52 per cent and 37 per cent of total subscribers, respectively, in FY24 from 30 per cent and 15 per cent in FY19. Data subscribers for Airtel Africa have shown 33 per cent CAGR between FY17 and FY19. Around 21 per cent of its subscribers are on 4G, 43 per cent use the 3G network, while 36 per cent use 2G. The average revenue per user for 4G customers is $6, while for 3G and 2G subscribers it is $2.1 and $0.6, respectively.
The operator continues to invest in the 4G network, having added nearly 1,500 sites. More than half its sites are now 4G. As for the mobile money business, analysts feel that most of the operating countries of Airtel Africa are underbanked. The company has a distribution network of more than 240,000 money agents. Airtel is preparing for the launch of the mobile money business in Nigeria.