By Samuel Bankole
Airtel Africa reported a decline in first-quarter profit due to the impact of the naira devaluation resulting from President Bola Tinubu’s foreign exchange reform undertaking.
The Group Chief Executive, Olusegun Ogunsanya, acknowledged the challenges posed by foreign exchange headwinds but expressed optimism about the long-term development of their business in Nigeria, their largest market.
Ogunsanya highlighted Nigeria’s untapped growth potential, underpinned by attractive fundamentals, and noted that the company’s customer base grew by 8.8 percent to 143.1 million.
Mobile data and mobile money services’ rising penetration led to a 22.0 percent increase in data customers, reaching 56.8 million, and a 24.3 percent increase in mobile money customers, reaching 34.3 million.
Despite foreign exchange challenges, Airtel Africa reported constant currency ARPU growth of 11.1 percent, primarily driven by increased usage across voice, data, and mobile money.
In constant currency terms, mobile money transaction value rose by 47.2 percent, with Q1’24 annualized transaction value at $107 billion in reported currency.
Ogunsanya acknowledged the challenging macro environment but highlighted the company’s strong operating performance, with improvements in constant currency revenue growth and EBITDA margin.
He expressed optimism that the FX reforms would improve liquidity over time, mitigating challenges faced by international businesses in accessing US dollars and hindering accelerated growth.
The company’s six-pillar ‘win-with’ strategy has driven strong momentum in voice, data, and mobile money revenue growth, supported by ongoing investments in network and distribution.
Despite the impact of foreign exchange headwinds, Airtel Africa remains focused on providing reliable telecom and mobile money services at affordable rates across their 14 sub-Saharan markets, where demand for these services remains significant.
The company aims to continue its growth in these markets with a continued focus on margin resilience.
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