Bharti Airtel’s Africa operations made a net profit of $83 million for the quarter ended March 31. In the corresponding period a year before, it had seen a net loss of $49 million.
The profit this time was mainly on account of increase in users of its Airtel Money platform and more data consumption. It is the first time that Airtel separately announced the results for its Africa unit.
There was a rise over a year of nearly 16 per cent in the quarter, the final one of financial year 2018-19, in earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda), at $354 million.
“The total (Africa) customer base using the Airtel Money platform increased by 24 per cent to 14.2 million, as compared to 11.5 million the previous year,” said the company.
For the full financial year, Airtel Africa reported profit of $412 million; 2017-18 had a loss of $138 million. Revenue increased 5.7 per cent to $3,077 million, from $2,910 million in 2017-18.
Average revenue per user (Arpu) in the March quarter dropped 3.1 per cent over a year and 3.4 per cent sequentially (from the earlier, December, quarter) to $2.7. Voice Arpu fell 3.5 per cent over a quarter and 7.2 per cent over a year; data Arpu rose 2.8 per cent sequentially and 6.8 per cent on year. Revenue rose six per cent to $781 million from the March quarter of 2017-18.
The total value of transactions on Airtel Money grew 30.5 per cent to $26.2 billion over the year. Airtel Money revenue was $243.3 million, a rise of 59.7 per cent.
Network towers were 21,059 at end-March, up from 19,731 a year before. Third-generation technology (3G) has been launched in all 14 countries where it is present on that continent; fourth-generation (4G) in 11. Of the tower total, 16,426 are mobile broadband ones. The number of mobile broadband stations were 32,501, up from 20,093 at end-March 2018.
The company says it aims to consolidate as market leader or emerge a strong second in all 14 nations via inorganic growth, meaning buyouts or mergers.