, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 5 – Safaricom has announced it will give free Internet to schools in the government’s laptop project after posting a 45percent rise in profit for the first half of 2013-14 to Sh11.3billion.
The growth was driven by a 49 percent growth in Short Message Services (SMS) as well as mobile data that increased by 43 percent in the period under review.
Total revenue increased by 17 percent to stand at Sh69.2 billion while M-PESA revenue increased by 20 percent to Sh12.5 billion.
Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore says M-PESA continues to grow as a key revenue driver contributing to 18 percent of total revenue due to a 19 percent increase in active M-PESA customers.
“Our M-PESA agents’ outlets grew by 73 percent in the period to 78,856 while voice revenue grew by 12 percent on the back of growing customer base which now stands 20.8 billion,” he said.
The company’s focus is to extend cashless distribution in the fast moving consumer goods environment coupled by Lipa na M-PESA (that enables merchants to receive payments via M-PESA).
Free cash flow has also risen to Sh13.7 billion compared to Sh5.14 billion over the same period last year due to strong trading results and working capital management.
“We expect free cash flow to be in the range Sh20 billion to Sh21 billion in the full year results,” he said.
Collymore announced that increase in mobile data revenues was as a result of growth in customer numbers of 52 percent to 8.5 million active members and usage per customer that grew by 18 percent.
“Operating cost however declined 22 percent from 24 percent over the same period last year due to cost initiatives focused on transmission costs, inventory costs network operating costs as well as IT operational costs,” he said.
The telecommunications company is urging for allocation of additional frequencies spectrum resources to facilitate nationwide LTE (Long Term Evolution – 4G) rollout.
“In consideration of this we are prepared to provide free broadband access to all public primary schools identified as part of the governments laptop initiative,” he said.