MTN Group says it delivered a solid Q1 2022 performance, with double-digit service revenue growth in a challenging macroeconomic environment.
“Many of our markets have also experienced rising inflation and interest rates, and pressure on consumer spending driven by recent global events impacting food and energy prices in particular,” it said in a trading update on Friday (13 May).
Group president and CEO Ralph Mupita, said: “Monetary and fiscal positions in many of the countries we operate in were challenged during the period, resulting in currency weakness against the US dollar.”
Additionally, supply chains experienced disruptions, and to mitigate the risks of network rollout we accelerated capital expenditure in the quarter under review, he said.
“In South Africa, load shedding from the national grid has impacted network availability and we have had to increase investment in batteries ahead of the winter period when we anticipate that the risk of load shedding may remain high.”
Group service revenue increased 15.9%, while MTN SA service revenue improved 4.6%.
- Group voice revenue up by 2.6%
- Group data revenue up by 37.3%
- Group fintech revenue up by 21.2%
- Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up by 21.1%
- Group subscribers increased by 3.2% to 276.2 million
- Active data subscribers increased by 13.1% to 125.6 million
- Active Mobile Money (MoMo) customers increased by 25.9% to 58.7 million
“We continued to invest in our ‘second-to-none’ networks and technology platforms, deploying R7.0 billion of capex in Q1. We were pleased to secure permanent high-demand spectrum in MTN
South Africa (MTN SA) and paid R3.3 billion in April 2022 for the mid-band allotment of spectrum.
“This will enable us to ramp up investment to increase coverage, including 5G offering, and to support data traffic growth,” said Mupita.
MTN South Africa
MTN SA recorded a healthy performance in Q1 with service revenue increasing by 4.6%. This result was supported by solid commercial and operational execution yielding service revenue growth in all the core business units.
“This performance shows the resilience of the business, against the backdrop of a challenging macroeconomic environment, with a rapidly rising unemployment rate, and increased pressure on
consumer disposable income.
“This environment has contributed to a notable shift in customer spending patterns and greater competition for share of the consumer’s wallet,” the group said.
MTN SA closed the quarter with a total of 34.5 million subscribers, an increase of 7.1%, driven by higher gross additions. The postpaid subscriber base continued to expand, with an increase of 7.4% to 7.5 million on the back of solid growth in integrated voice and data-centric plans.
There was a 7.0% increase in prepaid subscribers to 27.0 million, it said.
MTN SA’s drive to grow mobile data revenue led to data traffic growth of 46.7% and a 14.1% increase in active data users to 17.3 million. This underpinned a 14.3% increase in overall mobile data revenue.
The enterprise business recorded a 23.1% increase in service revenue, driven by sustained growth in data deals, Bulk SMS and the ICT business.
The performance of the fintech business was encouraging with approximately 5 million registered MoMo users and 840,043 monthly active users by 31 March 2022, MTN said.
“Network availability and quality has been affected by load shedding from the national grid, as well as ongoing theft and vandalism of towers since Q4 2021. To mitigate these impacts, MTN SA rolled out a comprehensive resilience plan including additional batteries, generators and enhanced security features,” the group said.
Since the award of temporary spectrum in 2020, MTN said its SA operation has ramped up investment to increase network coverage, improve speeds and enhance the overall customer experience.
MTN SA has also invested in an expansion drive into rural and peri-urban areas and a major 5G rollout, reaching a population coverage of 15%.
“MTN SA will continue to use the spectrum to expand 4G and 5G connectivity, as well as capacity, to entrench its position as South Africa’s best network while further enhancing rural, peri-urban, and urban network coverage.”
The group said that the floods in KwaZulu-Natal caused extensive damage to infrastructures. A total of more than 500 MTN sites were down in the province. MTN SA activated contingency plans and has since restored to full capacity around 90% of the affected sites.
MTN said its SA performance outlook will be shaped by macroeconomic conditions in the country such as load shedding as well as current global macroeconomic uncertainties which are expected to add to inflationary pressures, including on costs and availability of food and fuel. This will further impact consumer spending power and patterns, it said.