MTN Rwanda bounces back to post Rwf 7.7bn in profit

MTN chief executive Bart Hofker speaking to The New Times on May 9, 2019. / Faustin Niyigena

MTN Rwanda’s performance for the year 2018 ended on a positive note with revenues growing by 21.6 per cent to Rwf102.8 billion, according to the company’s latest announcement.

The previous year MTN Rwanda had posted a loss of Rwf8.5 billion, which resulted from significant charges of Rwf15.5 billion from penalties by Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authorities (RURA), as well as tax authorities.

This year the firm paid Rwf28 billion in taxes as well as Rwf8.2 billion dividends to shareholders.

MTN Rwanda’s local shareholder Crystal Telecoms, a publicly listed company on Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE), received  a 20 per cent dividend payout, Rwf1.64 billion in absolute terms.

The company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation stood at Rwf30.1 billion as at the end of December while the net profit recorded was Rwf7.7 billion.

MTN chief executive, Bart Hofker, told The New Times in an exclusive interview on Thursday that the growth was driven by growth in subscriber base and as a result of investment made in network upgrade.

“I think the biggest driver for the performance is the growth in active users. Our customer base is growing dramatically, which is good for Rwanda because you see the penetration of mobile services is growing enormously,” he noted.

MTN’s total customer base grew from 3.4 million in 2017 to 4.5 million in 2018 and active data subscribers were 3.4 million in 2018 from 2.6 million in the previous year.

Generally, the growth registered came from different areas. There was significant growth in mobile financial services with mobile money subscribers growing by 52.6 per cent and financial technology services growing above 30 per cent.

Financial technology services like mobile money and other digital services grew by 30.3 per cent and mobile internet contributed to the growth with data revenue increasing by 23.5 per cent.

This is also true for mobile money transactions that increased by 64 per cent to 214.5 million transactions.

Voice revenue also grew by 19.1 per cent, ostensibly suggesting that people are still into traditional services despite the increasing fear that over-the-top services like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter could threaten these services.

The unveiling of the affordable feature smartphone ‘Ikosora’ on the local market this year, among other things, may have pushed the company’s growth in 2019 first quarter.