4G smartphone usage propels Airtel Africa in interim results
Smartphone usage is increasing on Airtel Africa's network, according to the company, which said that 4G devices now account for almost 80% of all data consumption on the network.
Airtel Africa provides voice, broadband, and mobile money services in African nations including Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Niger, and Madagascar.
According to the firm, the rising use of smartphones on Airtel Africa's networks across Africa has been a stronger driver of data usage, revenue, and income.
"Data usage per customer per month increased by 19.4% (in the half-year period ending September) to 5.1 GB per month, up from 4.3 GB a year ago. This increase was driven by increased smartphone penetration as well as an increase in home broadband and enterprise users,” according to Airtel Africa.
This resulted in a 28.1% increase in data income, with 4G handset holders accounting for 79.6% of overall data consumption on the network during the half-year period under evaluation.
Airtel Africa's data consumption per 4G subscriber increased to at least 8.4GB per month on average during the half-year period, with data income increasing to $385 million.
Overall, data customers climbed by 23.0% to 59.8 million. This was accomplished despite Africa's relatively low smartphone penetration, which also means poor data penetration, according to the business.
This, however, gave Airtel Africa and its competitors a "significant opportunity to enhance both digital" and financial inclusion. Some African mobile providers offer cheaper devices to subscribers in order to increase data usage, while others are developing super apps for their mobile money operations.
Airtel Africa has had to "invest in expanding our 4G network footprint to increase data capacity in our networks to support future business growth, as well as deploying new sites, particularly in rural areas, to enhance coverage" and connectivity in order to stimulate data usage.
With a strong emphasis on 4G deployment, nearly all of Airtel Africa's locations can now provide LTE connectivity.
4G users provided 85.3% of overall data usage for the three-month period ending September 2023, with 4G data usage for the September 2023 quarter alone now standing at 11.7GB per month, a 41.3% increase over the September 2022 quarter.
Airtel Africa laid an extra 5,000 kilometres of fibre during the six-month reporting period under review, increasing the total to 73,600 kilometres throughout its African markets. The firm, a branch of Bharti Airtel, has also increased its international data capacity via submarine cables.
This increased its African data capacity by 48.8% to 28,200+ terabytes (TB) per day, resulting in 48.3% peak hour data utilisation
Olusegun Ogunsanya, Group CEO of Airtel Africa, stated that the increase in phone, internet, and mobile money usage "reflects the inherent demand for these essential services" in the African regions where the company operates.