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HomeBusinessAirtel loss rises to Sh5.6bn despite subscriber growth

Airtel loss rises to Sh5.6bn despite subscriber growth


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Airtel loss rises to Sh5.6bn despite subscriber growth

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Mr Prasanta Das Sarma, Airtel Kenya chief executive officer, during a past product promotion. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The telco is now insolvent to the tune of Sh46.93 billion after the gap between its liabilities and assets widened further from the Sh43.34 billion recorded in the previous year.

Airtel Kenya net loss from its voice and data business increased by 55 per cent to Sh4.45 billion despite the continued gain of customers and talk time market share from its rival Safaricom.

Parent company, Bharti Airtel Limited, disclosed that the loss—which excludes the mobile money segment– for the financial year to March last year rose from Sh2.87 billion recorded a year earlier.

Mobile money business posted a Sh1.16 billion loss in the review period, piling on the woes of the firm whose closest rival, Safaricom, is the most profitable in the region.

This pushed Airtel Kenya’s combined loss to Sh5.61 billion. Safaricom returned a net profit of Sh74.6 billion in the same period.

The telco is now insolvent to the tune of Sh46.93 billion after the gap between its liabilities and assets widened further from the Sh43.34 billion recorded in the previous year.

The widening losses emerged despite official data showing that Airtel Kenya has been gaining more customers and chipping away Safaricom’s market dominance, helped by its low price model.

Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) data shows Airtel Kenya’s subscriber market share jumped to 27.2 per cent at the end of December, from 14.9 per cent in September 2017.

Airtel Kenya managing director Prasanta Das Sarma in early April interview with the Business Daily defended the pricing model saying it is sustainable.

“What we provide to our customers is the most affordable rate. Whatever our product, we try to give value to our customers. Customers are loving us more,” said Mr Sarma.

Airtel Kenya recently upgraded 600 network sites to meet fifth-generation (5G) mobile internet services capabilities in readiness for the roll out of the super-fast services in urban centres.

Airtel hopes to ride on this upgrade to rev up its data business and offset sluggish growth in mobile calls, where they are seeing a small revenue growth due to saturation.

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