South Africa's biggest telecoms operator Vodacom reported a 4.2% drop in half-year earnings, impacted by start-up losses in Ethiopia and higher interest rates.

The company, which is majority owned by Britain's Vodafone , said headline earnings per share, a profit measure, fell to 438 cents in the six months ended on Sept.30, from 457 cents a year earlier.

The board declared an interim dividend per share of 305 cents, down 10.3%. (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Tom Hogue)