MTN, Africa’s biggest mobile carrier, has continued to weather COVID-19 pressures in Nigeria, recording double-digit growth in data revenue and fintech services in the six months ending June.
MTN Nigeria said the pandemic weighed on profits for the period but it maintained double-digit service revenue growth.
The telco’s data revenue rose by 57.6%, which MTN says was supported by an increase in data users and traffic. Revenue from digital and fintech services also rose by 121.8% and 29.6% respectively, while voice revenue growth was 2.8%, amid a change in traffic pattern following the lockdowns.
MTN says demand for data and digital services grew significantly during the period, but it experienced a decline in demand for voice services, especially in the mass market segment.
It adds the acceleration in data and digital revenue “only partially offset the decline in voice revenue. As lockdown restrictions have eased, we have seen an encouraging recovery in voice revenue.”
MTN’s profit before tax declined by 2% to N139.6 billion and earnings per share declined by 4.7% to N4.66 kobo.
“Following a strong first quarter, we experienced a challenging operating environment in the second quarter characterised by COVID-19-induced lockdowns and the broader macro-economic impact it has had.
“Despite this, we have maintained double-digit service revenue growth of 12.6% to 637 billion naira for H1, driven by strong growth in our key revenue lines,” says MTN Nigeria CEO Ferdi Moolman.
In the period under review, MTN added 6.8 million subscribers, taking the total number of customers connected on its network to over 71.1 million.
Moolman said: “We also connected 3.8 million new users to the Internet, bringing our active data subscribers to 29 million.
“Our MoMo [Mobile Money] subscribers increased by 1.6 million to 2.2 million, the majority of which were in Q2. We prioritised the upgrade of our network capacity to accommodate growth in traffic, while continuing to expand 4G network coverage, albeit at a slower pace given the constraints presented by COVID-19.”
The MTN board has approved an interim dividend of N3.50 kobo per share to be paid out of distributable net income.
Additionally, MTN said as part of several initiatives under its Y’ello Hope package launched in the first quarter, it offered subscribers free SMSes targeted “at providing value to the vulnerable in society”.
“It is pleasing that 75% of our subscribers benefitted, sending over 4.3 billion messages through the SMS platform. We also offered free money transfers using the MoMo agent network, with over 100 000 customers utilising the service,” notes Moolman.
Looking ahead, he says “impacts of COVID-19 are very uncertain and will depend on the evolution of the virus throughout the remainder of the year, any reinstatement or intensification of lockdowns and any other economic impacts caused by the global situation”.