Vodacom has published its trading update for the quarter ended 31 December 2020, showing strong growth in its fibre business.
Group service revenue increased by 4.2% over the period, with South African service revenue increasing by 5.4%.
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub noted that just under half of the company’s international customer base – almost 16 million people – now use its M-Pesa platform.
“Revenues from M-Pesa increased 10.1%, largely the result of a 7.7% increase in customers, with almost 16 million people – or just under half of our International customer base – now making use of our M-Pesa platform. Including Safaricom, monthly M-Pesa transactions were $24.2 billion, up 57.8% year-on-year,” Joosub said.
“In addition to our ongoing COVID-19 response and ensuring that we continue to invest significantly in our network to accommodate rapid shifts in customer behaviour, participating in the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA) High Demand Spectrum auction is a key strategic priority for the Group in the quarter ahead.”
He added that any further delays to this process will likely have a negative impact on consumers.
Vodacom invested R3.4 billion in its network over the quarter, R2.7 billion of which was invested in South Africa alone to meet the demand for customers working from home.
Fibre business booming
Vodacom has seen significant growth in its fibre business in South Africa, with its number of fibre customers doubling compared with the same period last year.
The number of homes passed by its own fibre network has also increased substantially over the past 12 months.
“Our fibre customers more than doubled year-on-year to 110,000 homes and businesses connected,” Vodacom said.
“Also, our owned fibre roll-out continued, and we passed 139,000 homes and businesses as at 31 December 2020, up 39.8%.”
Overall service revenue increased in South Africa by 5.4%, supported by the operator’s summer campaign.
“We had 23 million customers opt into the campaign, which was underpinned by our newly launched loyalty programme, VodaBucks,” Vodacom said.
“Our summer campaign recorded 271 million device ‘shakes’, or 5 million shakes per day, and stimulated strong customer engagement via instant rewards.”
Mobile customer growth
Vodacom’s mobile user base in South Africa continued to grow across the prepaid and contract segments.
The number of Vodacom contract customers increased by 29,000 in the quarter, with ARPU declining by 0.7% due to tough economic conditions.
Prepaid net additions were at 1.4 million for the quarter, which translated to a 9.4% increase in mobile customer revenue in this segment.
Vodacom has also seen continued growth in data traffic, with trends normalising due to eased lockdown restrictions near the end of last year.
“Data traffic increased 43.2%, as the growth trend normalised with eased lockdown restrictions for most of the quarter,” Vodacom said.
“Data customer net additions were 0.2 million in the quarter as we reached 22.5 million customers and smart devices on our network were up by 4.5% to 23.5 million.”
The number of 4G devices on Vodacom’s network increased by 24% to 15.1 million while the average usage per smart device increased by 34.9% to 2.1GB per month.