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MTN adds vaccine equity to list of Africa targets

By , ITWeb
Africa , South Africa , 12 Aug 2021
MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita.
MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita.

MTN has leveraged the momentum gained from executing its Ambition 2025 strategy and says according to its H1 2021 operating results, it has exceeded most medium-term targets – and will join World Health Organisation (WHO) and Africa CDC in calling for vaccine equity among developing markets.

In a statement the company’s President and CEO Ralph Mupita commented: “Notwithstanding the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, MTN delivered a solid H1, exceeding most of the Group’s medium-term targets through sustained commercial momentum as we executed on our Ambition 2025 strategy.”

“We continued to prioritise the health of our people, as well as sustain initiatives to support Africa’s recovery from the pandemic’s devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods. By 12 July 2021, we had 2 452 COVID-19 infections across our operations and mourned the loss of 18 MTN employees. By that date, just over 8% of our staff had been vaccinated with at least one dose,” he added.

According to Mupita the push for herd immunity across the world and a return to broad-based socio-economic global growth will not be possible while developing markets battle to access vaccines.

“Public private partnerships focused on a sustainable future for our planet will be critical to successfully navigate this pandemic,” he said.

Revenue increase

MTN said as at the end of June 2021, it had over 277 million voice subscribers; 117 million active data customers; almost 49 million active Mobile Money users; and eight million users of its instant messaging platform ayoba.

In constant currency terms, service revenue increased by 20% in H1 to almost R82-billion and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) before once-off items increased by 24% to nearly R39-billion. The Group’s EBITDA margin expanded by 1.6 percentage points to 44.9%.

The company added: “Reported headline earnings per share (HEPS) declined by 10%, impacted by non-operational and once-off items, which included accounting adjustments related to our Middle East portfolio as well as material COVID-19 donations. Excluding these, adjusted HEPS increased by 31.5%. This supported the further expansion of adjusted return on equity, which was up by more than four percentage points to 18.3%. In line with previous guidance, no interim dividend was declared.”

MTN said it has also reduced its holding company debt from R43.3-billion to R36.7-billion, and the holdco leverage reduced to 1.4x in the half.

“This was boosted by cash inflows received from our operating companies of R9.3-billion, which included R4.0-billion from Nigeria, as well as R1.8-billion in proceeds from the sale of our stake in Belgacom International Carrier Services.”

Ethiopia liberalisation

MTN has confirmed it will not participate in the new liberalisation process underway in Ethiopia.

Its statement refers: “Our April 2021 bid for a new telecom licence in Ethiopia was unsuccessful. Our bid took into account the licence conditions as well as related uncertainties. We had also adopted a partnership approach to ensure that funding and risk was diversified. While disappointing, we are comfortable that our approach was guided by disciplined strategic and capital allocation frameworks.”

The company has also confirmed its decision to abandon the MTN operation in Syria given regulatory actions and demands  the company believes makes operating in that country untenable.

“We reserve our rights to seek redress through international legal processes given the actions of the Syrian authorities that have left us with no other choice than to exit. MTN Syria represented less than 1% of MTN Group EBITDA at the end of 2020. In line with our focus on Africa, we continue to explore options to exit Yemen and Afghanistan in an orderly manner,” the company stated.

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