Shameel Joosub. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Shameel Joosub. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

Vodacom’s December quarter update goes some way to explain the 20% run in the mobile network operator’s share price over the past few weeks.

The group’s overall revenue for the three months to end-December grew 6.7% to R22.6bn, while its total customer numbers grew 13% to 74-million at the end of 2017, from 65-million the year before, Wednesday’s update shows.

About 80% of Vodacom’s revenue comes from SA, with Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique and Lesotho contributing the balance.

Vodacom’s South African revenue grew 6.2% to R18.2bn.

It increased its local prepaid customer numbers by 16.3% to 36.3-million at December 31, from 31.2-million at the end of 2016.

Contract customers grew a less impressive 2.5% to 5.3-million.

Though customers numbers grew, Vodacom’s average revenue per user (arpu) per month declined from both its prepaid and contract subscribers.

Prepaid customers spent R59 a month on average during the December quarter, versus R64 in the matching period in 2016. Average monthly contract bills fell to R393 from R414 over the year.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub’s commentary in the quarterly update devoted a fair amount of space to concern about government policy.

"We remain of the opinion that a hybrid between what is currently in place and the proposed wholesale open access network addresses the government’s transformation mandate and will have a greater impact on driving down the cost to communicate for customers compared with the proposed amendments to the Electronic Communications Act," Joosub said.

The update did not provide a revenue breakdown for the countries outside SA where Vodacom operates, but did provide subscriber numbers and arpu figures.

In terms of customer numbers, the DRC is Vodacom’s fastest-growing market, with 23.5% annual growth to 12-million subscribers. Tanzania’s customer numbers grew 4% to 12.9-million.

"Tanzania continues to deliver on its turnaround strategy, with good revenue and customer growth, while we continued our efforts to improve customer registration processes," Joosub said.

"Mozambique and Lesotho have made solid progress on their strategic priorities of M-Pesa and data growth, delivering excellent momentum, while performance in the DRC has improved as the currency and economic environment starts to stabilise."