MTN injects Shs 270b into building superior network reach and quality

by Abbas Muhamad
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Uganda’s telecommunications giant, MTN Uganda Limited released its first full-year results, since it got
listed on the exchange, reporting that the total revenue grew by 10% from Shs 1.878 trillion in 2020 to
Shs 2.060 trillion in 2021.

The annual results for the financial year, posted some impressive numbers, considering the tough
operating environment, dampened by the pandemic. The telecom that went public last year, shedding
off some 12.95% and raising a record Shs 535bn.

MTN’s Chief Executive Officer, Wim Vanhellepute, said it had, in the year, launched a series of data
growth initiatives targeted at converting incidental users on the base into active users and acquiring
new data users through the smartphone growth acceleration programme.

With more than 100,000 phones financed both internally and through partners, he said that they see an
increasing number of customers adopting data usage, adding that this strategy, coupled with their
dynamic data value proposition, supported smartphone penetration of 30.8% (+7.4pp) by the end of the

“MTN Uganda introduced a low-cost mobile device financing programme in the market to make data
access more affordable to customers. Device Financing has enabled our customers to own smartphones
at an initial cost equivalent to a feature phone price. Smartphone access is a key lever in driving digital
inclusion and data growth,” said Wim Vanhellepute

He explained that the company had invested Shs 270.2bn in projects targeted at maintaining service
quality and aggressively expanding their footprint in line with their data performance improvement

“This strategy sets the context in which MTN Uganda will drive the business forward and capture
explosive growth opportunities from digital acceleration trends. It also aims to reveal the inherent value
of some of MTN’s businesses and assets, such as financial technology and fiber over the medium-term,
for the benefit of MTN’s shareholders,” he stated.

The giant company had expedited its 4G network rollout by building a total of 664 4G sites in the year
which, in turn, increased the 4G coverage to 62.7% and during 2021, it had been assigned additional
spectrum (1,800MHz and 2,100MHz) resources that it leveraged to improve network quality.

MTN said it had emerged as the best data and voice network in Uganda having attained the Best
Network Performance Score in the year in a countrywide assessment undertaken by Rohde & Schwarz, a leading independent monitoring and network testing firm.

MTN noted that regardless of investing aggressively, it still ensured efficiencies, saving some Shs 42.8bn
in 2021, compared to Shs 11bn in 2020, thus the improved profitability and liquidity.

“Fintech revenue grew by 10.2% mostly driven by growth in active subscribers on the mobile money
services (+16.3%) and basic fintech services. The basic revenues grew by 19.3% YoY while our advanced
revenues (revenues from other fintech services) increased by 20% YoY supported by the increased adoption of our customers in using our platforms for bill payments (+58%) and merchant payments
(+13%),” added Wim Vanhellepute.

The revenue growth was buttressed by an overall mobile subscriber base growth of 1.5 million (+10.7%
YoY) to 15.7 million from 14.2 million as well as a 16% growth in active data users to 5.3 million from 4.6

The company said it remained the overall market leader as well as the market leader in the voice, data
and fintech segments.

MTN said its mobile money active subscribers rose to 9.9 million (+16.3% YoY) from 8.5 million users,
underpinned by what MTN said was an effective subscriber acquisition and an engaging Customer
Value Management (CVM) program.

“In the broader ecosystem, we grew our active mobile money agents to 173,400 (+47.8% YoY) through
our attractive agent incentive programme and trade assistance initiatives. We also increased our
merchants by 61% to 52, 926,” said the company.

The sizable CAPEX and increasing costs of sales, notwithstanding, the company said it had implemented
several cost management and efficiency initiatives on all its cost centres, saving some Shs 42.8 billion in
2021, compared to shs11 billion in 2020.

Profit After Tax (PAT) increased to Shs 340.4b (+5.8% YoY) up from Shs 322b in 2020 and the profit would
have been higher, had it not been for two particularly significant and unusual transactions that are non-
recurring in nature.

MTN said that through the MTN Foundation, contributed a total of Shs 3.5bn into various social
initiatives such construction of classroom blocks, ICT laboratories for students in the Eastern and North-
Western region. The company also partnered with the Ministry of Health through COVID-19 support
initiatives and various Non-Governmental organizations through youth empowerment and refugee
support programmes.

“In line with the recovery of economic fundamentals, we expect low double-digit average growth in
service revenue over the medium term. In delivering on the service revenue growth guidance, we will
continue to focus on cost and capital expenditure efficiencies and target an EBITDA margin in the 52% to
53% range, operating cash flow growth and improving returns to shareholders. The forecasted dividend
pay-out ratio is projected to range between 75% to 80%,” the company stated.

“Our capital expenditure program will enable us to fulfill our NTO license obligation, which is targeting
90% landmass coverage by 2024. Our initiatives will continue to support 2G voices to 3G voice traffic
offloading which will reduce 2G voice congestion and allow us to create a better customer experience,”
added MTN.

The company said it would pursue opportunities for data growth in fixed connectivity through MTN
Waka Net, fiber to home and fiber to business and said that it would continue to invest in that segment.

“We are currently progressing with the implementation of a new pricing framework for the fixed data
connectivity services to widen our customer catchment area. For mobile data, we plan to continue with our device financing initiatives to drive smartphone penetration and maximize on the spectrum
efficiencies which will be a key driver of mobile data usage,” MTN shared.

“In fintech, our mobile money revenues continue to be impacted by the 0.5% withdrawal tax introduced
in July 2018 and increased competition from other fintech platforms. We will focus on growing our
advanced services to accelerate revenue growth through attractive propositions,” the company noted.

Voice revenue remained the biggest service revenue driver, growing 3.6% from Shs 971bn to Shs 1.007
trillion. Data revenue grew by 21.9% from Shs 338bn to Shs 412bn, while fintech revenue that is largely
composed of MTN Mobile Money, grew by 10.2% from Shs 477bn to Shs 525bn.

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