MTN Group’s Nigerian unit has reported a 27.6% increase in half-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda), despite a sharp decline in subscribers brought about by regulatory restrictions on new Sim sales and activations.
Mobile subscribers declined by 7.6 million to 68.9 million. Despite this, service revenue was up by 24.1% to ₦790.3-billion in the six-month period to June 30, 2021. Ebitda came in at ₦417.2-billion, with the margin improving by 1.4 percentage points to 52.7%.
The regulatory Sim restrictions were lifted on April 19, though the addition of subscribers since then has been slower than usual “due to new process requirements”.
“We anticipate growth to normalise in the short term as more of our acquisition centres are certified for Sim registration,” the company said.
Service revenue grew by 24.1% year on year, driven by the sustained growth in data and partly due to the lower base in comparative 2020 voice revenue that resulted from lockdowns during that period, it said.
“Voice revenue grew by 13.1%, benefiting from an 11.8% increase in traffic and our customer value management initiatives. The impact on voice revenue from the industry-wide suspension of new Sim registration was partly offset by higher usage in our active Sim base as well as migration to a higher quality of experience.”
Data revenue jumped by 48.3%, helped by increased customer usage and supported by the acceleration of its 4G roll-out and access to additional spectrum at 800MHz. Data traffic rose by 83% year on year, while smartphone penetration was up by 5.8 percentage points to 49.3%. “Our 4G network now covers 65.1% of the population, up from 60.1% in December 2020.”
Fintech revenue rose by 48.2%, driven by increased adoption of Xtratime and the company’s core fintech services. Registered Mobile Money agents increased by 121 000 in the first half of 2021 to reach 515 000. Transaction volume increased by 281% year on year, with the active MoMo subscriber base now more than 6.1 million, up 180% year on year.
Capital expenditure in the six-month period was up by 39.1% to ₦186.4-billion. The company declared a dividend of ₦4.55-kobo/share, up 30% on a year ago.
The company’s CEO, Karl Toriola, also announced plans to build a new head office in Nigeria.
“In line with our desire to plant deeper and more permanent roots in Nigeria, we have initiated plans to commission a purpose-built, state-of-the-art MTN head office, designed to act as a central hub for our network, a catalyst for creativity and innovation, and a showcase for the flexible working structures that are driving efficiency gains in this new normal working environment,” Toriola said.
“Aligned with our wider commitment to environmental sustainability, it will meet the highest global environmental standards, demonstrating the role of green technology in our future.”
Duncan McLeod is editor of TechCentral, on which this article was first published here.
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