Top Companies in Africa

A good number of managers of sub-Saharan companies have told me that when it comes to their efforts to internationalize, South Africa is off their radar screen. These countries see industries in South Africa as already quite developed and think it would be pointless to try to compete in that market. With this in mind a quick scan of the top 500 companies in Africa ranking gives us no surprises.

Shoprite: Ranked ninth of the Top 10 Companies operating on the African continent
Shoprite: Ranked ninth of the Top 10 Companies operating on the African continent

Based on turnover (2013 data), the ranking was just published by The Africa Report. It  includes companies operating in Africa whether they are homegrown or multinational affiliates. See below for some curious facts:

Top 10 companies in Africa:

Rank Company Industry Country
1 Sonatrach Petroleum Algeria
2 Sonangol Petroleum Angola
3 Sasol Chemicals South Africa
4 The Bidvest Group Diversified South Africa
5 Eskom Utilities South Africa
6 MTN Group ITC/Telecoms South Africa
7 Steinhoff Int’l Holdings Wood and paper South Africa
8 Sanlam Insurance South Africa
9 ShopRite Holdings Retail South Africa
10 Imperial Holdings Transport South Africa

Top 10 companies in sub-Saharan Africa:

Rank Company Industry Country
2 Sonangol Petroleum Angola
32 MTN Nigeria ITC/Telecoms Nigeria
46 Société Ivoirienne de Raffinage Refining Ivory Coast
56 Oando Petroleum services Nigeria
69 Flour Mills of Nigeria Agribusiness Nigeria
71 Ethiopian Airlines Air transport Ethiopia
75 Dangote Cement Construction Nigeria
76 Société Nationale de Raffinage Refining Cameroon
80 Kansanshi Mining Mining Zambia
81 Total Gabon Petroleum Ghana

Of the top 10 companies overall:

  • 8 companies are South African, 1 is sub-Saharan African, and 1 is Northern African;
  • a variety of industries are represented.

Of the top 10 in sub-Saharan countries:

  • 8 are based in West Africa, 2 in East Africa, and none in Central Africa;
  • the majority (6 out of 10) operate in extraction-related industries – mostly, petroleum-related.

Take note:

  • The data are consistent with the fact that 33 % of intra-African investment projects originate in South Africa (see my earlier post “African investments in Africa“);
  • West Africa accounts for the majority of large sub-Saharan companies, with Nigeria at the helm as the largest economy in Africa (see “Nigeria: A fashionable high-growth country,” and “From Nigeria to Kenya“);
  • The variety of industries in South Africa with large companies explains why companies from other African regions are discouraged from trying to break into those markets;
  • The high number of petrol and related companies in West Africa is no surprise given these countries’ dependence on oil (see “Oil scarcity in an oil-rich country” for the implications of overdependence on petroleum).

Any thoughts you’d like to share?