Airtel Uganda has declared a final dividend of Ush86 billion ($22 million) after reporting a 9.6 percent decline in profit for the year ended December 2023.

The new dividend adds to the earlier interim of Ush76 billion ($19.45 million) that was declared and paid soon after the company went public through an initial public offering (IPO) in November last year.

The telco will now have paid a total of Ush162 billion ($41.47 million) in its life as a publicly listed entity.

Airtel Uganda had promised to distribute a minimum of 95 percent of its annual net profit or retained earnings as dividends to shareholders. It had also projected it could pay a total of up to Ush500 billion ($127.98 million) as dividend in the period under review.

The telco fell short of the absolute target but met its payout ratio of 95 percent of net income, which stood at Ush296.95 billion ($76 million), declining from Ush325.7 billion ($83.37 million) a year earlier.

The company’s cumulative dividends for the year under review stood at Ush280.8 billion ($71.8 million), including distributions made when it was yet to list on the Uganda Securities Exchange.

The telco’s projection of paying a larger dividend did not see the lightof day as earnings fell substantially below target.“Based on the projected financial information contained in Section 13 (Reporting Accountants Report) the company expects to pay a total dividend of approximately Ush500 billion for the financial year ending December 31, 2023, comprised of quarterly payments,” the telco said in its IPO documents.

The IPO was launched from August 30, 2023 to October 27, 2023, with shares subsequently listed on November 7, 2023.

Airtel Uganda’s earnings in the year ended December 2023 were weighed down by higher costs. Other operating expenses, for instance, grew 36.4 percent to Ush159.1 billion ($40.7 million) while network operating expenses jumped 25.1 percent to Ush314.4 billion ($80.5 million).

The telco’s total revenues grew by 11.5 percent to Ush1.7 trillion ($455 million), driven by positive performance in its core voice and data business.

"Airtel Uganda proudly achieved considerable growth in 2023, surpassing expectations with gross revenue of Ushs 1,784 billion, a remarkable 11.5 percent increase compared to Ushs 1,599 billion in 2022. This exceptional performance reflects our unwavering commitment to innovation, customer satisfaction, and operational excellence,” the company said in a statement.

“Data revenue and value-added services saw significant growth in the past year, reaching Ushs776 billion compared to Ushs657 billion in 2022. This increase was primarily driven by a rise in data usage, with more customers accessing data services. Voice revenue also experienced growth, reaching Ushs 899 billion from Ushs 870 billion in 2022. The total minutes of voice calls also increased by 6.7 percent compared to the previous year."

Unlike most telcos in the region, the company does not offer mobile money services but the same is run by an affiliate of its parent company Airtel Africa.

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