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New Delhi: ’s Africa business reported a net profit of $240 million in the fiscal fourth quarter, a 56% on-year jump, and 33% increase sequentially, due to tighter cost controls, even as customer additions and average revenue per user (ARPU) fell sequentially.

Revenue for the quarter ended March 2022 rose 18% on-year and 0.2% sequentially to $1.222 billion, the company said Wednesday.

“We have delivered strong double-digit growth in revenues across all our regions and all our key services, with improving margins driven by strong cost control, and expanding cash generation which is enabling us to continue to invest in our network and services and expand our distribution, as well as strengthening our balance sheet and increasing our returns to shareholders,” Segun Ogunsanya, chief executive officer, said in an official statement on Wednesday.



The Africa unit’s net finance costs in the March quarter increased 8% on-year but declined 8.2% sequentially to $112 million.

“Net finance costs were broadly flat as lower foreign exchange and derivative losses, higher interest income and a one-time $12 million gain in other finance charges as a result of the reversal of an interest provision in one of our operating entities were offset by a one-off cost of $19 million for the applicable premium paid on the early repayment of the $505 million bonds in March 2022,” the company said in its quarterly report.

The company said it remains mindful of currency devaluation and repatriation risks. “There are increasing challenges from global inflationary pressures, but we continue to target revenue growth ahead of the market and moderate margin expansion,” the CEO said.

Airtel Africa added that an “increase in tax charges of $187 million was due to higher operating profits, and withholding tax on dividends by subsidiaries.”

The company’s net debt fell 3.5% sequentially to $2.941 billion, in the quarter ended March 2022.

Airtel Africa said it has strengthened its balance sheet through both deleveraging and reducing its US dollar debt expense. The company improved its leverage ratio to 1.3x net debt to underlying EBITDA in the quarter ended March.

Airtel’s Africa unit’s customer base across 14 markets in the continent rose nearly 9% on year and 2% on-quarter, to 128.4 million, while monthly churn increased marginally to 4.3%. However, the Africa unit’s average revenue per user (ARPU) fell 3% sequentially to $3.2.

Data revenue grew nearly 28% on-year and around 1.3% sequentially to $398 million while voice revenue rose nearly 14% on-year and under 2% sequentially to $615 million in the March quarter. Data customer base at the end of March, FY22 stood at 46.7 million, a 3.6% sequential growth and over 15% annual growth.

The Africa unit’s mobile money business revenue climbed 29% annually but only 0.3% sequentially, to $141 million. The active mobile money user base grew nearly 21% annually and nearly 2% sequentially to 26.2 million, while mobile money ARPU fell under 3% on-quarter to $1.8.

The company also received a full payment service bank (PSB) license in Nigeria, which the Africa unit CEO said, “will help accelerate financial inclusion in the territory and drive their mobile money business even faster.”

Looking to the future, the company said that it first plans to secure spectrum for the 5G launch and roll out the 5G network in key markets.

But “Given the relatively low 4G customer penetration in the countries where it operates, the Group will continue to focus on its strategy to expand its data services and increase data customer penetration by leveraging and expanding its leading 4G network,” the company said.

Bharti’s Africa operation, which has seen a strong business resurgence in recent years, was made part of the FTSE 100 Index in 2021. The company completed its first full year of profitability in FY18, marking a turnaround from previous years when losses had mounted every quarter, dragging down consolidated numbers, and had even cast doubt on Bharti’s strategy of entering the continent back in 2010. Airtel Africa Plc was listed on London Stock Exchange in late-June 2019.

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