Telecommunications giant Vodacom has reported growth across the board for the year ended March 31, 2021, as it navigates the sudden shifts in consumer behaviour patterns.
The group invested heavily in the resilience of its networks to cope with significant increases in mobile data traffic volumes to keep families connected, enable businesses to operate, facilitate online learning and assist governments in providing critical services.
“We invested R13.3-billion in network infrastructure during the year, including R10.1-billion in South Africa, and as a group we have invested R62.4-billion into our networks over the past five years,” said Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub.
During the year ended March 31, 2021, Vodacom’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation climbed 4.5% to R39.3-billion.
Earnings a share were up 4.2% to 978c and headline earnings a share increased 3.7% to 980c.
Reported group revenue increased 8.3% to R98.3-billion, supported by service revenue growth of 5.8% to R77.6-billion.
South Africa service revenue grew 7%, with consistent growth through the financial year, owing to increased data use, a successful summer campaign and demand for financial services.
“Our International operations reported muted service revenue growth of 1.6% in the year, with a stronger second half helping offset the significant impacts of Covid-19 earlier in the year,” said Joosub.
He attributed this to the disruption of commercial activities owing to the informal structure of the economies where Vodacom operates, currency volatility, increased pressure on consumer spend, free M-Pesa peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions and the impact of service barring in Tanzania owing to biometric registration compliance.
Vodacom added 8.2-million customers, bringing the customer base to 123.7-million customers across the group, including Safaricom.
Total financial services customers, including Safaricom, increased 12.9%, or 6.6-million, to 57.7-million, generating revenue of R19.3-billion during the year under review.
Through M-Pesa, Vodacom processes $24.5-billion a month in transaction value across its international markets, including Safaricom, which reflects a 63.5% increase for the year.
Vodacom’s strategic investment in Safaricom comprised almost 13% of its R27.7-billion operating profit for the year to March.
“Safaricom’s local currency results reflected the impact of depressed economic activity and free M-Pesa P2P transfers, related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Positively, Safaricom’s commitment to its strategic goals supported strong platform growth for M-Pesa and higher connectivity use. This supported a notable recovery in service revenue growth through the financial year, with fourth quarter growth at 6.4%.”
Vodacom declared a final dividend of 410c.