Airtel Kenya has come out to refute media reports that it plans to cease its operations in the country, a market where it ranks second with 6.3 million subscribers, equivalent to 16.3 per cent of total number of the total mobile phone users.
There have been reports from early this month that the India-based telco plans to exit Kenya and two other markets – Rwanda and Tanzania.
However, in statement, the mobile network operator said that it would ” like to categorically deny these reports which are completely incorrect, unfounded and devoid of any facts.”
“This is in reference to a few articles in certain sections of the media (based on another media story), mentioning that Airtel is looking at exiting Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. We would like to categorically deny these reports which are completely incorrect, unfounded and devoid of any facts. Airtel has consistently stated that it is open to consolidation opportunities, either through acquisitions or mergers, to create sustainable businesses in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. It was never stated that Airtel was looking at exiting these markets. As stated in the past, our focus continues to be either the No. 1 or No. 2 operator in each country where we operate, through market consolidation,” read the statement.
To this effect, noted the statement, Airtel acquired assets in Uganda and Congo Brazzaville (Warid), Kenya (Yu) and consolidated operations in Ghana (Millicom), leading the customers in these markets to now “enjoy a superior and wider network, affordable voice and data services, and better customer care.”
“This validates our stand that in-country consolidations have resulted in achieving better market positions, thereby benefiting customers and the industry as a whole… To underscore our commitment in Kenya, we have embarked on investing heavily in all technologies (2G, 3G and 4G) and are putting up over 300 sites over the next few months to improve coverage even further,” added the statement.
On its financial performance, the telco said that its revenues continue to be strong in Africa, stating that in constant currency terms, its revenues in Africa grew by 2.8% Y-o-Y with net revenues growing 6.3% “on the back of increase in data penetration” while data traffic grew by 83.8% Y-o-Y.
The telco’s mobile money transfer platform – Airtel Money – also continues record an increase in transaction values, returning a growth of over 30% Y-o-Y.
“Our efforts to create a profitable business model for Africa continues and we have delivered EBITDA margin of 32.1%, with margins up 9.1% Y-o-Y. This has also now enabled the business to sustainably generate positive free cash flows. We remain focused on accelerating growth through the three pillars of increasing mobile penetration, growing the data business and expanding the Airtel money base,” concluded the statement.
In Africa, Airtel – which has subsidiaries in 17 countries globally – operates in Burkina Faso, Chad, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.