Airtel records $1.03bn in revenue for Q3 2021 as data revenue increases by almost $100m, surpassing growths in voice and mobile money

by | Nov 1, 2021

Airtel Africa, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti-Airtel, has continued to surpass its profit and revenue margins recorded in previous quarters. 

In Q1 2021, it recorded revenue of $1.03 billion, a 21.7% increase from Q1 2020, when it generated  $899 million. 

According to the Q3 financial report released on Thursday, October 28, 2021, it recorded yet another impressive increase from Q3 2020. 

The telecom company’s revenue in Q3 2021 stood at $1.160 billion, a 22.7% increase from Q3 2020’s $965 million, this, without considering currency fluctuations (constant currency). When we consider currency fluctuations (reported currency), the increase is  20.1%, a 2.6% difference. 

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Voice remains king, but data isn’t doing too badly.

chart 1
Airtel’s Q3 2021 revenue breakdown. (in millions)

As usual, voice brought in the most revenue at $578 million, while data and mobile money brought in $377 and $135 million, respectively. 

Although voice remains king, it only rose by 11.6% — $60 million — (reported currency) from Q3 2020’s $518 million. Data went from $283 million to $377 million within the same period, signifying a 33.0% — $94 million — increase. 

Mobile money increased by 34.6%, going from $100 million to $135 million in the same period.

The same trend was recorded in Q2 2021. Voice trumped other revenue sources at $562 million, followed by data and mobile money with $356 and $124 million, respectively. 

However, voice isn’t only king at Airtel. According to MTN Nigeria’s financials for Q3 2021, voice also led with a revenue of $234.3 million; data came in second at $137.68 million. The telecom company also recorded a similar revenue trend in Q3 2020.

Airtel says it is focusing on increasing smartphone ownership, thereby increasing data usage. It will do this via its  Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partnerships and expanding its network of outlets selling smartphone devices. 

According to the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), 4G connections in sub-Saharan Africa could reach 28% by 2025. This could increase data consumption, making data the new revenue king.  

Airtel’s data subscribers increased to 43.9 million, a 10.9% jump from 39.6 million in Q3 2020. 

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Mobile money customer base experienced a 19% increase, rising from 20.1 million to 23.9 million when comparing Q3 2020 and Q3 2021.

Generally, Airtel has increased its customer base by 5.4% — 116.4 million to 122.7 million — in the 14 African countries where it is present. 

Fun fact: Data subscribers represent 35.8% of Airtel’s customer base of 122.7 million

Profits 

Airtel’s profit before tax in the period in question was $308 million, an 81% increase from $170 million in the same quarter last year. 

Profit after tax, on the other hand, was $192 million, which is an impressive 118.6% increase from last year’s $88 million. 

However, the year-on-year (YoY) growth rate falls short compared to Q2 2021’s 148.7%. Its YoY revenue growth rate of 22.7% also pales in comparison to last quarter’s 33.1%, figures it still attributes to the COVID-19 restrictions of 2020. 

It says it is due to “a weakened performance in the first quarter of the prior year during the peak period of Covid-19 related restrictions across the region.”

Nigeria remains cash cow, and data revenues are rising 

chart 2
Airtel’s Q3 2021 revenue per region

In Nigeria, the telecom company recorded significant revenue growth compared to the preceding period. At constant currency, the revenue growth rate was 27.1%.

However, the telecom giant recorded a 38.2% revenue growth rate in the previous quarter. 

As always, Nigeria recorded the highest revenue of the 14 countries where Airtel is present. The country’s Q3 2021 revenue stood at $450 million, a $73 million increase from $377 million in Q3 2020

The country’s revenue surpassed the $428 million recorded in all the East African countries combined by $22 million. 

In Francophone Africa, the company generated $285 million in revenue, $165 million behind Nigeria. 

Interestingly, Nigeria’s data revenue growth rate was 41.5% — from $139 million to $179 million — in constant currency compared to the period before. However, in reported currency, the growth rate was 33.1%. 

While voice revenue had the lion’s share, its growth rate was 14.6% at constant currency and 7.7% at reported currency. It rose from $216 million in Q3 2020 to $233 million in Q3 2021. 

Airtel attributes its data revenue growth to an increase in data usage per customer. It went from 2.7GB to 3.9GB per month.

The total customer base in Nigeria now stands at 40.4 million, unlike 44.1 million in Q3 2020. The customer base also dropped compared to the 40.9 million in Q2 2021. The discontinuation of customer acquisition led to the reduction in the country’s total customer base. 

Airtel, however, maintained that the drop in customer base did not have a significant impact on its revenue. 

The company says its Q3 2021 financials signify a well-executed and effective strategy. According to Airtel Africa CEO, Segun Ogunsanya, “All our service segments are ahead of our FY’21 revenue growth trends, and in reported terms, these are all in strong double digits.”

*Airtel’s East African countries include Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

**Airtel’s Francophone contingent includes Niger, Chad, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Seychelles.

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