SOUTH AFRICA – Mobile operator MTN Group has announced the appointment of Burak Akinci as Chief Executive Officer of Simfy (ayoba), reporting to the MTN Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer Serigne Dioum and responsible for the super app ayoba.
Effective 1 September 2021, Burak joins Africa’s leading mobile operator from Turkcell, where he was Chief Executive Officer of BiP, an instant messaging platform with millions of users across 192 countries.
Burak, with over 20 years of experience in marketing, digital businesses and technologies, led the build-out of the BiP platform, which has more than 30 million users. In his new role, he will be based in Cape Town.
“We are thrilled that an executive of Burak’s caliber is joining us. His appointment accelerates our work to build the largest and most valuable platforms as we target greater digital and financial inclusion across the continent,” said Dioum.
Commenting on his appointment, Akinci said, “I feel honored and very excited to join MTN family and Ayoba. I believe in the digital vision for Africa driven by MTN and I am confident that, with this great team, we will build the best communication platform and super app of Africa.”
At the end of March 2021, MTN had 5.3 million monthly active ayoba users across 20 markets and a plan to grow this to 100 million in 2025.
“We aim to capture more than 10% of the gross merchandise value of the digital economy in our footprint as we move beyond the traditional telco-led Mobile Money (MoMo) offering with ayoba, which is an OTT (over the top) service that does not require users to be MTN subscribers. We are also targeting 100 million MoMo users by 2025, up from 46.6 million at end-March.”
The telco reported a strong performance for the first half of 2021: exceeding most medium-term targets; reducing debt; advancing digital and financial inclusion; and cutting the cost to communicate across Africa.
At the end of June 2021, across our 21 markets MTN Group had more than 277 million voice subscribers; 117 million active data customers; almost 49 million active Mobile Money users; and eight million users of our instant messaging platform ayoba.
In constant currency terms, service revenue increased by 20% in H1 to almost R82 billion (US$5.5 billion) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) before once-off items increased by 24% to nearly R39 billion (US$2.6 billion).
The Group’s EBITDA margin expanded by 1.6 percentage points to 44.9%.