Airtel Africa will take its mobile money unit public in 2025 even as it plans to expand the service to more African countries. The service is currently active in 14 countries.

“We will list next year. We will continue to bring additional countries into the envelope. We are still a year from that IPO,” said CEO Olusegun Ogunsanya. He did not disclose details regarding the preferred stock exchange for the listing.

Airtel Money is Airtel Africa’s fastest-growing arm, with a potential valuation surpassing $4 billion. Its performance stands in contrast to the company’s earlier released financial results, significantly impacted by challenging macroeconomic conditions that affected profitability for most of the financial year. These headwinds contributed to an $89 million loss after tax, a sharp decline from a $750 million profit recorded at the end of last year.

Despite the overall financial challenges, the mobile money unit emerged as a bright spot alongside its data revenues. Airtel mobile money’s transaction value increased by 38.2% in constant currency with an annual transaction value of over $112 billion in reported currency. Year-on-year, mobile money customers grew 20% to 38 million, driven by a continued strong performance in East Africa and Francophone Africa.

Airtel’s planned mobile money IPO follows a trend of investment in African mobile mobile money providers. Two years after its $100 million investment in Airtel Money, Mastercard acquired a minor stake in MTN’s mobile money arm.

Airtel Mobile Money is strongest in six markets, four of which are in East Africa: Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Malawi. The other two are Gabon and DR Congo, in the Francophone markets, the CEO said. Part of the winning strategy includes first-mover advantages, key infrastructure and distribution. Ogunsanya said Airtel leads the Zambia and Malawi markets. In Uganda, the competition is low because only two operators exist, while only three operators exist in Tanzania. 

“We were the first to deploy ATMs, giving us a significant head start,” Ogunsanya explained. “Our network boasts 29,000 exclusive mobile money branches, with a well-established system. We have been effective in leveraging our infrastructure to our advantage.”

Joseph Olaoluwa Senior Reporter, TechCabal

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