Airtel Africa Has Nigeria to Thank you for Growth

In a Friday (Feb. 4) statement, Airtel Africa, a subsidiary of Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, showed strong double-digit growth across all key metrics in its financial results for the nine-month period ended Dec. 31, 2021.

In terms of headline numbers, the company reported a 21.7% increase in revenue to $3.5 billion during the period, generating a net profit of $540 million.

Total customer base grew almost 6% to 125.8 million across the region, with a surge in mobile data and mobile money services customer bases.

Commenting on the results, Segun Ogunsanya, Airtel Africa CEO said a strong Q3 “contributed to a pleasing nine-month financial performance across all key metrics, while “driving continued strong growth in ARPUs [average revenue per user] across voice, data and mobile money.”

Revenue in Nigeria, its core market on the continent, also jumped by 29%, contributing 1.9 million customer additions in the third quarter and taking total Group customer additions to 3.1 million.

Another highlight that was directly tied to the West African nation is the conditional approval that Airtel Africa’s subsidiary, Smartcash, received from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in November 2021 to operate a payment service bank (PSB) business in the country.

With the PSB license, Airtel can now offer financial services including operating electronic wallets, carrying out payments and remittances, accepting cash deposits and issuing debit and prepaid cards, to locals in the country.

That same month, CBN also awarded Airtel Africa’s subsidiary, Airtel Mobile Commerce Nigeria, a separate super-agent license that enables it to create an agent network to serve the customers of licensed banks, payment service banks and mobile money operators in Nigeria.

In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Vimal Kumar Ambat, CEO of Airtel Mobile Commerce (AMC), spoke about the significance of the PSB license, which he said “gives us a completely new impetus into growing our footprint and our presence in Africa’s largest economy .”

Read Ambat’s interview: Central Bank Gives Nod to Mobile Money Licenses; Airtel Fast Tracks Plans to IPO Mobile Money Unit

According to Ambat, the opening of Nigeria will also put AMC, the holding company for several of Airtel Africa’s mobile money operations, in a position to explore a potential initial public offering (IPO) in less than three years, as well as give the company a “clear path to double and triple our mobile money business across the continent.”

read more: Airtel Africa Gets $100M Boost From Mastercard

So see: QIA Backs Airtel Africa’s Mobile Commerce Unit With $200M

Outside of Nigeria, Airtel Money partnered with leading African payments company, Flutterwave, in October 2021 to expand Airtel Money’s services to businesses across East Africa, marking another significant move the company made during the financial period under review.

“The partnership enables businesses integrating Flutterwave in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and Rwanda, to receive payments from Airtel Money customers, as well as make bulk payments into Airtel Money wallets thanks to Airtel Money’s proprietary fintech platforms,” the report noted .

learn more: Google Investing $1B in India’s Bharti Airtel

And in other company news, Google plans to invest up to $1 billion as part of a long-term partnership with Bharti Airtel that is designed to boost India’s digital ecosystem, PYMNTS recently reported.

The investment will be made up of a $700 million equity investment in the company, along with up to $300 million for commercial services including programs to promote the availability of cheaper devices to consumers and offerings aimed at accelerating digital inclusion in India.

“The two organizations recognize the importance of a connected India, in empowering businesses as they progress on their Digital Transformation journeys, and building a strong digital ecosystem for consumers everywhere,” the companies said in a joint statement.

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