"We now have around 19,700 Airtel Money branches, kiosks and mini-shops and approximately 286,000 Airtel Money agents and we have a robust SIM activating outlets channel, enabling strong customer growth and cross-selling through brand recognition across all 14 countries."
Airtel Africa continued on its growth trajectory in 2018/19. This was achieved through a continued focus on distribution excellence, ensuring excellent overall network quality and enabling existing customers to garner more benefits from our network. We added 9.6 Mn customers, taking the total base to 98.9 Mn. Airtel Africa’s revenue growth of 12% (constant currency), was primarily driven by mobile data and Airtel Money. Airtel Africa continued to improve its EBITDA margin, up 4%, highlighting our investments in efficient operations and cost management in recent years. All services - Voice, Data and Airtel Money have seen a significant increase in usage across the customer base.
Airtel Money continues to increase financial inclusion in the countries in which we operate, providing customers with mobile money service that are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through their mobile devices. In order to support and strengthen the infrastructure and coverage required to enable continued multi-channel growth of Airtel Money. We now have around 19,700 Airtel Money branches, kiosks and mini-shops and approximately 286,000 Airtel Money agents and we have a robust SIM activating outlets channel, enabling strong customer growth and cross-selling through brand recognition across all 14 countries.
There is ongoing investment in network expansion to improve coverage, quality and support the growing demand for data. We increased the number of new 4G sites by 7,182 taking the total number to 9,297. In addition, we added 2,701 new 3G sites, taking the total number to 16,426 and 1,433 new 2G sites, taking the total number to 21,059. During the year we launched 4G in Nigeria, Chad and Congo B, this means that we now have 4G in 11 out of our 14 operations. Over the period, smartphone penetration rose in all of our 14 markets.
Airtel Africa continued to remain focused on delivering the right cost model, by working on continuously improving its operating model across various activities. Some of the key initiatives which resulted into significant savings were, redesign of the managed service model across the markets, energy optimization, bandwidth remodelling to get greater capacity at a better cost and restructuring the IT organization.
Airtel Africa continued to invest in the hiring and development of talent with senior hires at the Group HQ as well as in the markets. In addition, the roll-out of the new IT Target Operating Model has led to the creation of new specialist roles at the Africa Development Centre.
Airtel Africa is committed to supporting the communities in the areas where it operates. In addition to the ongoing initiatives around education, health and the development of youth, it also stepped up to assist the flood victims in Malawi and of the Cholera outbreak in Zambia. The Company also provided environmentally friendly boreholes to communities in Nigeria and free digital education for children in Madagascar, amongst other initiatives.
Airtel Africa is satisfied with the progress in 2018/19 and is enthusiastic about the opportunities for 2019/20. We have the right talent, in the right positions, to deliver on our commitment to grow the number of subscribers and revenue. We will continue to invest in our network and operations to ensure that our customers truly benefit from the potential that mobile communications and financial inclusion can offer.