Airtel Africa, a telecommunications firm with a presence in 14 African countries, reported a 99% decline in profits last year after currency devaluation in some of its biggest markets, including Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia, and Kenya.

Massive devaluations of Nigeria’s Naira and the Malawian Kwacha squeezed Airtel Africa’s margins and resulted in profits of $2 million for the year. The Naira’s devaluation cost Airtel $301 million. Excluding these impacts, profit before tax for the nine months ended 31 December 2023 would have been $840 million. [ad]

The telco’s $2 million profit is far from the $523 million profit it recorded in the nine months ended December 2022. The poor results also dragged down Airtel’s revenue by 1.4% to $3.8 million from $3.9 million a year ago.

The company’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Olusegun Ogunsanya, is undeterred by the results.

“Whilst further currency devaluation, particularly in Nigeria, has weighed on our reported financial performance, it will not affect the execution of our growth plans,” he said. Ogunsanya said the group will focus on capital allocation priorities, enabling the firm to fully repay HoldCo debt when due in May 2024, ensuring the continued success of their balance sheet de-risking strategy. The GCEO also said they would invest in new business opportunities like their new data centre business, Nxtra by Airtel, which was launched in December. The board intends to launch a share buy-back programme of up to $ 100 million, starting early March 2024 over 12 months.

The telco’s financial statement also reported that its group mobile services revenue grew by 18.6%, driven by voice revenue growth of 11.2% and data revenue growth of 28.5%. Mobile money revenue grew by 31.8% in constant currency. Similarly, its total customer base grew by 9.1% to 151.2 million as the penetration of mobile data and mobile money services continued to rise, driving a 22.4% increase in data customers to 62.7 million and a 19.5% increase in mobile money customers to 34.3 million.

Joseph Olaoluwa Senior Reporter, TechCabal

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