RABAT- Maroc Telecom, Morocco's largest telecoms operator, reported on Thursday that profit barely grew last year as revenue dropped by 2.7% in an increasingly competitive domestic market.

The company said 2021 profit rose by just 0.2% to 6.014 billion dirhams ($642.2 million) while revenue fell to 35.7 billion dirhams, due to slowing mobile activity in Morocco, partly offset by increased returns in other African countries.

Maroc Telecom's mobile service is facing increasing competition from Wana and Orange ORAN.PA .

The company expects revenue to drop further in 2022 as competition grows in its main market Morocco, where it also faces a lawsuit brought by its competitor, Wana.

Wana is suing Maroc Telecom for 6.845 billion dirhams for alleged non-compliance with regulations relating to fair competition. Maroc Telecom, which is 53% controlled by the UAE’s Etisalat with the Moroccan state owning 22%, has said it will use all legal means to defend its interests.

In 2020, Wana dropped a similar case after the telecoms regulator ANRT fined Maroc Telecom 3.3 billion dirhams for abusing its dominant position in the market by hindering competitors' access to unbundling on its network and the fixed line market. Maroc Telecom said its customer base rose 1.8% in 2021 to 74 million. The company rebranded all its African branches into “Moov Africa” in 2020. It operates subsidiaries in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Togo and the Central African Republic. Maroc Telecom is listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris.

It said it will pay a dividend of 4.78 dirhams per share, totalling 4.2 billion dirhams, up from 4.01 dirhams per share last year.

(Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi; Editing by Susan Fenton) ((ahmed.eljechtimi@thomsonreuters.com;))