Delivering A Resilient Performance With Strong Underlying Momentum, Despite A Volatile Macro-Economic Environment

Operating highlights

  • Total customer base grew by 9.0% to 152.7 million. We continue to bridge the digital divide with a 17.8% increase in data customers to 64.4 million and a 20.8% increase in data usage per customer.
  • Mobile money subscriber growth of 20.7% reflects our continued investment into distribution to drive increased financial inclusion across our markets. Transaction value increase of 38.2% in constant currency with annual transaction value of over $112bn in reported currency. Increased transactions across the ecosystem reflects the enhanced range of offerings and increased customer adoption, supporting constant currency ARPU growth of 8.6%.
  • Continued network investment to support an enhanced customer experience and drive increased 4G coverage. 95% of sites now 4G operational, facilitating a 42.3% increase in 4G customers over the year.

Financial performance

  • Revenue in constant currency grew by 20.9% with growth accelerating to 23.1% in Q4’24. Nigerian constant currency revenue growth accelerated to 34.2% in Q4’24 despite the challenging backdrop. Reported currency revenues declined by 5.3% to $4,979m reflecting the impact of currency devaluation, particularly in Nigeria.
  • Across the group mobile services revenue grew by 19.4% in constant currency, driven by voice revenue growth of 11.9% and data revenue growth of 29.2%. Mobile Money revenue grew by 32.8% in constant currency, with a continued strong performance in East Africa.
  • EBITDA margins remained resilient at 48.8% despite the currency headwinds and inflationary pressure on our cost base. Constant currency EBITDA increased 21.3% with reported currency EBITDA declining 5.7% to $2,428m. Q4’24 EBITDA margins of 46.5% were impacted by the lower contribution of Nigeria following the Q4’24 naira devaluation and rising energy costs across a number of markets.
  • Loss after tax was $89m, primarily impacted by significant foreign exchange headwinds, resulting in a $549m exceptional loss net of tax following the Nigerian naira devaluation in June 2023 and Q4’24, and the Malawian kwacha devaluation in November 2023.
  • Basic EPS of negative (4.4 cents) compares to 17.7 cents last year. EPS before exceptional items was 10.1 cents, a decline of 25.9%. Both EPS before exceptional items and basic EPS were primarily impacted by significant derivative and foreign exchange losses during the year. EPS before exceptional items and derivative and foreign exchange losses was 18.3 cents compared to 20.5 cents in the prior period.

Capital allocation

  • Capex was broadly flat at $737m and was below our guidance largely due to a deferral in data centre investments. In addition, we invested $152m in licence renewal and spectrum acquisitions, including $127m for the Nigerian 3G licence renewal.
  • Leverage of 1.4x on 31 March 2024 was flat from the previous year. We have around $680m of cash available at HoldCo, to be utilized to fully repay the remaining $550m debt, falling due in May 2024.
  • The Board has approved a share buyback programme of up to $100m, over a period of up to 12 months. On 1 March 2024, we announced the commencement of the first tranche of this buyback up to a maximum of $50m. During March 2024, the company purchased 7.4 million shares for a total consideration of $9m.
  • The Board has recommended a final dividend of 3.57 cents per share, making the total dividend for FY24 5.95 cents per share.

Sustainability strategy

  • Our landmark five-year $57m partnership with UNICEF launched across 13 markets providing access to educational resources, free of charge, on our way to transforming the lives of over one million children through digital learning by 2027.
  • Partnered with the Government of Rwanda to launch the ConnectRwanda 2.0 initiative which aims to provide more than a million people with affordable smartphones to bridge the digital divide.

Olusegun Ogunsanya, Chief executive officer, on the trading update:

“The consistent deployment of our ‘Win with’ strategy supported the acceleration in constant currency revenue growth over the recent quarters which has reduced the impact of currency headwinds faced across most of our markets.  This strong revenue performance is a reflection not only of the opportunity that is inherent across our markets, but also the resilience of our affordable offerings despite the inflationary pressure many of our customers have experienced.

Facilitating this growth has been, and will remain, fundamental to our performance. The investment in our distribution to catalyse growth, and the technology required to support this growth has been key. Furthermore, our rigorous approach to de-risking our balance sheet and our capital allocation priorities has materially reduced the risks that the currency devaluation has had on our business. Key initiatives include the reduction of US dollar debt across the business and the accumulation of cash at the HoldCo level to fully cover the outstanding debt due. We will continue to focus on reducing our exposure to currency volatility. At the beginning of March, we launched our first buyback programme reflecting the strength of our financial position.

The growth opportunity that exists across our markets remains compelling, and we are well positioned to deliver against this opportunity. We will continue to focus on margin improvement from the recent level as we progress through the year.

I want to say a particular thank-you to our customers, partners, governments and regulators for their support and our employees for their unrelenting contribution to the business. Our purpose of transforming lives across Africa will continue to be our highest priority.

GAAP measures
(Year ended) 
DescriptionMar-24Mar-23Reported
currency
$m$mchange
Revenue4,9795,255(5.3%)
Operating profit1,6401,757(6.7%)
(Loss)/Profit after tax(89)750(111.9%)
Basic EPS ($ cents)(4.4)17.7(124.9%)
Net cash generated from operating activities2,2592,2291.4%
Alternative performance measures (APM) 1
(Year ended)
DescriptionMar-24Mar-23Reported
currency
Constant
currency
$m$mchangechange
Revenue4,9795,255(5.3%)20.9%
EBITDA2,4282,575(5.7%)21.3%
EBITDA margin48.8%49.0%(22) bps14 bps
EPS before exceptional items ($ cents)10.113.6(25.9%)
Operating free cash flow1,6911,827(7.4%)

(1) Alternative performance measures (APM) are described on page 50, with a reconciliation on page 53.

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