In the first half of 2023, MTN Group delivered resilient results, advanced our strategy by partnering with Mastercard on the MTN fintech business, and progressed plans to exit Afghanistan. This was achieved in a difficult operating environment marked by elevated inflation, weaker local currencies and regulatory developments across our 19 markets.
“We delivered a resilient performance in H1 23 and made good strategic progress against a tough macro backdrop,” said MTN Group President and CEO Ralph Mupita.
“In South Africa, we were very encouraged by the improved network availability on the back of our power-resilience investment, resulting in a stronger Q2 23 performance than Q1 23,” he said. By end-June, MTN South Africa’s network availability was more than 90% despite severe electricity shortages across the country.
“In Nigeria, we delivered a very strong operational result, having navigated the cash shortages in Q1 23 and increased inflation,” Mupita said. “The policy changes implemented in Nigeria in Q2 23 have short-term negative impacts, but we see these as being very constructive for the investment climate in the medium to longer term.”
MTN Group’s service revenue grew 15% to almost R108 billion in constant-currency terms. This was driven by increases in revenue from data services of 24% and from fintech services of 22%. Revenue from voice services increased 6% in the period.
At the end of June 2023, we had 292 million subscribers with whom we worked to create shared value. This subscriber base – 4% higher than the same period last year – benefited from lower data rates and improved access to broadband services.
To facilitate the digital economy, we increased the number of active data users by more than 7% to nearly 140 million; reported a 19% increase in overall data traffic; and improved data affordability by reducing the average effective rate per megabyte by more than 22%.
We continued to invest in world-class networks and platforms for the people of Africa, committing R17.2 billion in capital expenditure in the first six months of 2023. The Group’s balance sheet remained strong, with all key metrics well within the limits of our loan covenants.
Driven by solid revenue growth and improved efficiencies, adjusted headline earnings per share (HEPS) increased by 25% to 749 cents and adjusted return on equity (ROE) expanded by one percentage point to 24.4%. These were in line with our medium-term guidance.
The MTN Group Fintech business delivered on our rapid expansion plans. The volume of transactions increased by 37% to 8.3 billion in the first half of the year. These were executed by 61 million active MoMo customers.
Following the bespoke process to identify and potentially introduce strategic minority investors into MTN Group Fintech, we executed commercial agreements with Mastercard to support the acceleration and growth of our fintech business’s payments and remittance services.
MTN and Mastercard also signed a memorandum of understanding which provides for a minority investment by Mastercard into Group Fintech based on a total enterprise valuation of about US$5.2 billion for the business on a cash and debt-free basis. Signing of the definitive investment agreements is expected to occur in the very near term as we approach finalisation of customary due diligence. The closing of the investment will be subject to customary closing conditions.
We continued to work to simplify our portfolio. The process for MTN Group to exit Afghanistan in an orderly fashion through the sale of our entire shareholding to Investcom AF, and affiliate company of M1, remains well on track. The transaction received conditional regulatory approval to proceed, pending the submission of relevant documentation to the Afghanistan Regulatory Authority.
Looking ahead, MTN will keep working to create shared value across our markets. “We are focused on the continued execution of our Ambition 2025, which remains relevant in the current macroeconomic volatility and presents attractive scope for growth,” said Mupita.
“As we manage the challenges in our operating environment, as well as the near-term impacts on our top-line and margins, we maintain our medium-term guidance.”