The MTN Group added 28.8 million subscribers to reach a total 279.6 million customers in 2020 across 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East.
The company announced a service revenue growth of 11.9 per cent and EBITDA growth of 13.4 per cent, with a 17 per cent increase in return on equity.
It also reported an operating free cash flow increase by 117.1 per cent to R28.3bn, basic earnings per share increase by 87 per cent and reported headline earnings per share increased by 60 per cent.
Despite having increased its earnings in 2020, the group suspended its full year dividend. It said this was to focus on faster deleveraging of its holding company and due to uncertainties around repatriating funds from Nigeria, the timing of proceeds from its asset sale programme and the impact of COVID-19.
The board said it would communicate a revised medium-term dividend policy after the announcement of its 2021 financial year results in March 2022.
The group said, “During this transition, the board anticipates paying a total ordinary dividend of at least R2.60 for the 2021 financial year. We anticipate that this will be a final dividend, with no interim dividend for FY 2021.
“On assessment of the progress of cash upstreaming from Nigeria, ARP delivery and COVID-19 impacts, the board will consider returning further cash to shareholders in the form of special dividends or share repurchases after the release of FY2021 result.”
The MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Mupita, said the cash upstreaming from Nigeria remained challenged in terms of securing foreign currency in the market.
He said during the year under review, the company upstreamed the equivalent of approximately R286m from Nigeria, with approximately R4.2bn yet to be repatriated as at 31 December 2020.
He however added that the group had added 19 million active data users and 11.7 million mobile money users to reach 114.3 million and 46.4 million respectively.
Mupita announced the company’s new strategy ‘Ambition 2025’, to ‘accelerate growth and unlock the value of its infrastructure assets and platforms’.
The Group President and CEO revealed, “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.
“To support this, we plan to invest approximately R29.1bn in our network, fintech and digital services platforms in 2021.”
MTN Group’s capital expenditure was R28.6bn and its net debt was reduced by R12bn to R43bn.