Often considered the world’s last frontier, Africa has continued to demonstrate considerable growth potential in key economic sectors. Prospects are particularly bright in the communications sector. Whilst, there has been continued growth in the sector, there is still room for improvement to match the much faster growth seen in other telecom markets.
Despite all the challenges the continent has faced – political unrest, Ebola epidemic, economic instability, continuous currency devaluation - that have had an impact on the way we do business, Africa presents immense opportunities as we continue to build stronger bonds with our stakeholders and the communities we operate within.
As we continued to transform the business, under the challenging context we reviewed the way we lead our operations in order to consistently win in the market place and improve our brand scores. We anchored our business plan during the year to the following strategic considerations:
Data services have already become a powerful revenue stream for the industry in the region, with over 80% of internet users in Sub-Saharan Africa accessing it through mobile devices. We saw encouraging results during the year as Airtel’s data subscriptions rose by 36.2% in Africa, whilst total MBs on the network grew by over 87.4%. Data usage per customer was 130 MBs by March 2015 accounting for a year-on-year growth of 35.4%.
With the launch of 3G in Gabon, Chad and Niger, we now have extended our footprint to all 17 markets in Africa. We also launched our 4G services in Rwanda and Seychelles, showcasing our technology leadership in the region.
With 6.18 Mn Airtel Money customers, we are set to become a major mobile commerce service provider in the continent. Our strategy for growth continues to focus on the expansion of our ecosystem to include governments, merchants, retailers, utilities, banks and other relevant stakeholders. We have provided affordable financial services such as utility payments, money transfers (Local & International), mobile insurance, savings and loans. Under Airtel Money, we launched the first East Africa mobile cross border cash transfer product that will enable our customers transact money with neighbouring countries – Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. We also closed our partnership with MasterCard and Visa card companion card linking the Airtel Money wallet with the cards.
We continued to connect with Africans from all walks of life through various engagement platforms, the most visible initiative being the Airtel Trace Music Stars Competition which so far is the biggest music competition in the continent. The finals at Nairobi, Kenya drew the best singers qualifying from preliminary stages in 17 countries.
With CSR playing a big role in shaping the Company’s culture and growth, we have adopted an even more focused policy under which the organisation will work on aligning mobile usage in the continent to empower, enable and unlock the potential of future generations to create wealth in four key sectors – education, enterprise development, health and environment.
In the upcoming fiscal year, continuing to build on the strategy pillars of this year, our focus shall be revenue growth and eliminating wastage through operational efficiencies. In addition, our CSR policy will be a key driving force in ensuring that we connect more with the communities we operate in.
Amidst all this, our people will continue to be a source of competitive advantage as we aggressively hire and develop the best-in-class talent so as to build a strong employer brand and ensure full focus and execution towards achieving the objectives of our stakeholders.
Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) B.V.