As Bharti Airtel bleeds in India, Africa sends band-aid with love

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Published: January 28, 2020 3:50 PM

While Sunil Mittal’s telecom company Bharti Airtel bleeds in India amid tough competition from Reliance Jio and impending AGR dues, Airtel Africa has provided some cushion to the company.

The Africa arm of the Indian telecom company has posted eighth consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth and EBITDA margin expansion in 3Q20.

While Sunil Mittal’s telecom company Bharti Airtel bleeds in India amid tough competition from Reliance Jio and impending AGR dues, Airtel Africa has provided some cushion to the company. The Africa arm of the Indian telecom company has posted eighth consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth and EBITDA margin expansion in 3Q20, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Airtel Africa also witnessed a rise in its customer base which grew by 9.4%. Airtel now serves about 107.1 million people in Africa. “Growth was recorded across all services, with revenue in Voice, Data and Mobile Money up by 3.9%, 39.0% and 40.4% respectively in constant currency,” the company said.

Also Read: Reliance Jio clears AGR dues; now heavy lifting falls upon Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea

“On a market-specific basis, Nigeria has been leading our growth with double-digit voice revenue growth and over 70% data growth as a result of our lead in 4G rollouts and the huge data capacities we are creating,” Raghunath Mandava, Chief Executive Officer, Airtel Africa, said.

Airtel India has also been doing well in adding subscribers. In the last two months, it has strengthened its user base, breaking an earlier spree of losing subscribers continuously. The company lost millions of subscribers in the first two quarters of this fiscal, but gained 16 lakh subscribers in November 2019, according to data released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). On the other hand, Vodafone-Idea made a massive loss in its subscriber base and its subscription dropped by 3.64 crore subscribers in FY20.

Further aggravating the situation for both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea is the pending AGR dues. Airtel is expected to clear outstanding dues of Rs 35,586 crore and Vodafone-Idea has to pay about Rs 50,000 crore to the department of telecommunications (DoT) by January 24. Rival firm Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio has already paid its share of Rs 195 crore to the department.

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