MTN has published its financial results for the year ended 31 December 2020, showing strong growth across its operations.
The company added 29 million subscribers in the year, to reach a total of 280 million users across 21 markets.
Group service revenue also grew by 11.9% across all markets, driven by exceptional growth in Nigeria and other African markets.
South African service revenue growth was more muted, increasing by 1.6% over the period.
MTN reported a 52% increase in adjusted headline earnings per share, a four percentage point increase in return on equity to 17%, and it more than doubled operating cashflow to R28.3 billion.
“We continued to perform favourably against our medium-term targets,” said MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita.
“In constant currency terms, service revenue grew 11.9% to R170 billion and EBITDA increased by 13.4%, maintaining our strong operating leverage.”
MTN said it continued to prioritise the health and safety of its people and lost 10 MTN employees to COVID-19, after reporting a total of 1,404 infections in the period to the end of February 2021.
To support this strategy, MTN plans to invest approximately R29.1 billion in its network, fintech, and digital services platforms in 2021.
Data user growth
MTN said it met the demands of the pandemic with regards to the accelerated need for data services, and this is shown in its impressive user growth.
In 2020, MTN added 19 million data users and almost 12 million MoMo users, to reach totals of over 114 million and 46 million respectively.
“The Group’s networks remained well-invested, with capex of R28.6 billion in 2020 and headroom to accommodate growth of more than 110% in data traffic in the year,” MTN said.
MTN said it is focused on de-leveraging the company and has reduced net debt by R12 billion to R43 billion.
“The leverage ratio for the year, however, remained flat at 2.2x as cash upstreaming from Nigeria remained challenged,” MTN said.
“MTN concluded R4.3 billion of realisations of its asset realisation programme (ARP) and remains focused on completing some of its larger transactions, which did not proceed in the year due to challenging market conditions.”
MTN also announced a new “Ambition 2025” strategy for the next four years, which will see it separate its operations into discrete sectors.
“As part of this strategic repositioning, we are looking to structurally separate our infrastructure assets and platforms, such as fintech, to reveal value and attract third-party capital and partnerships into these businesses, over the medium-term,” MTN said.