Updated on June 2023 by Sharon Lewis.
In this article, we will be looking at the largest companies in Africa, ranked by market capitalisation. African economies are smaller than most leading countries, but they are growing at a record pace. A good knowledge of Africa’s largest companies can be vital for traders to gain an edge in the market.
Interestingly, all ten of the companies on this list are South African companies. This is likely due to South Africa being the second largest economy in Africa, behind only Nigeria while being one of just eight upper-middle-income economies in Africa. It is also the most industrialised and technologically advanced country on the continent, with this advantageous economic atmosphere helping larger companies thrive more there than in other African countries.
How do we define the largest?
It is important for us to establish how we are ranking these companies. Yes, we are ranking the largest companies, but what does this mean, and how can we measure this? We will use market capitalisation as our measure, which is the market value of a company’s outstanding shares. This is effectively the equity value of a company and can show the public’s opinion on a company’s overall value. Market capitalization is calculated simply by multiplying the price of the company’s shares by the number of outstanding shares there are of that company. This market capitalisation value is important for investors to have knowledge of to make sound decisions when investing and trading.
10 Largest African Companies
|Market Capitalisation ($billions)
|Standard Bank Group
Data from CompaniesMarketCap.com as of 23/06/2023
These companies may not be as recognisable to the average person as the largest companies in other continents or countries. This can make it even more important for traders to gain background knowledge of them and establish an advantage over the competition.
The largest company in Africa and the 503rd largest in the world, Naspers is an internet, technology and multimedia holding company that operates globally. Founded in 1915, Naspers dominated the South African market throughout the 20th century, being the largest holding company with its main stakes in books, newspapers, and magazines. Through the 1980s, the company began to globalise and diversify its assets, helping it become the multinational holdings company it is today.
It now holds a majority stake in its investment subsidiary Prosus, which deals with Naspers internet interest, including payments, social media platforms, and food deliveries, along with many other responsibilities. Through Prosus, Naspers is one of the biggest shareholders in Chinese tech giant Tencent but has been slowly selling some of its shares in the company to fund buybacks.
They also own Africa’s largest publishing company, Media24, including South Africa’s largest online retailer Takealot. This has been built upon by the establishment of the company’s venture capital fund that focuses on South African projects, the Naspers Foundry. Naspers Foundry is used to invest in start-up companies within the country, helping to build and scale them into larger, more profitable enterprises.
Second on the list is South Africa-based FirstRand Bank. The bank was founded all the way back in 1838 and had its roots as an investment bank up until the 1970s but was restructured into the holding company it is today in 1998. The company is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa and it has the claim of being the largest financial institution in all of Africa. The Reserve Bank of South Africa has licenced FirstRand Bank as a financial service provider.
The company operates as a retail and commercial bank while also offering other services to consumers such as asset management, insurance services and investments. The Bank operates in its own domestic market but also throughout sub-Saharan Africa, along with India and the UK. This is reflected by its other branches being in London, Guernsey, and India.
3. Standard Bank Group
Number three on the list is another financial services group, Standard Bank Group Limited. It is the largest lender by assets in all of Africa and is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and London Stock Exchange (LSE). Much like FirstRand, Standard Bank Group is another financial institution that was founded a long time ago, back in 1862, with its headquarters today also being in Johannesburg. It operates in 20 African countries, including its domestic market, offering various financial services to its customers while also conducting its own operations. More recently, the company has plans to expand into Kenya and announced that it was expecting record early 2023 revenue growth.
4. MTN Group
MTN Group Limited comes in fourth on our list. It is the eighth-largest telecommunications company in the world and the largest in Africa, with over 280 million subscribers. The mobile network operator operates from its head office in Johannesburg, offering its services to 20 countries throughout Africa and the Middle East. MTN Group has a large interest in Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria, having around 37% market share and generating over $4.5 billion from there.
The group was founded in 1994 and markets itself regionally and globally through the sponsorship of several major sports teams, such as the South African national rugby union team along with Manchester United FC and the Zambian super league. MTN Group has multiple subsidiaries, such as Vistafone and SuperSonic, while employing over 19,000 people.
5. Gold Fields
Gold Fields Limited is number five on the list AND is one of the world’s largest gold mining firms. The company was founded way back in 1887 by Cecil Rhodes and then became the firm it is today through its merger with Gencor. Gold Fields is listed on both the JSE and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and operates mines globally, with key countries being South Africa, Ghana, Australia, and Peru. There have been various instances where the company’s operations have gone wrong, and there have been negative environmental impacts. The most significant of these were from 2001, 2003 and 2012, mostly involving contaminated water spillages from mines.
Next on our list is the Western African mobile communications company, Vodacom. Vodafone, which western traders may be more familiar with, is Vodacom’s parent company, who now own a 65% stake in the company, with the rest being listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Vodacom provides messaging, internet, telecom, text, and data services to over 130 million consumers in Africa. The company was founded in 1994 and is currently South Africa’s leading cellular network provider, with an estimated market share of 40.5%. Vodacom was the second network to provide 5G networks to parts of Africa, starting in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town. They also employ the tactic of sponsoring various sports teams for marketing, with their most lucrative deal being the title sponsor of the Super Rugby tournament in South Africa since 1996.
7. AngloGold Ashanti
AngloGold Ashanti is a global mining company that focuses on the exploration, extraction, and production of gold and is currently the world’s fourth-largest gold mining company. The company has operations in multiple countries, such as South Africa, Ghana, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina. Its customer base includes jewellery manufacturers, industrial users, central banks, and other participants in the gold trading market. The company was recently delisted from the Australian Securities Exchange due to low trading frequency and traded volume. However, it continues to be traded on the JSE, the Ghana Stock Exchange, as well as the NYSE, which is its primary listing.
8. Capitec Bank
The next-largest company in Africa by market capitalisation is Capitec Bank. It was founded recently in 2001 but is the largest retail bank in South Africa in terms of the number of customers. It currently has a client base of over 20 million from just 5 million clients in 2013, effectively quadrupling its customers in the last 10 years. Capitec Bank operates as a retail bank for both individuals and consumers but does not provide business banking services for closed corporations, partnerships, companies, or trusts. The digital bank is run from Stellenbosch, South Africa, with over 15,000 employees. It operates thousands of ATMs across the country and caters to most of its customers through mobile and online banking, with most customers only paying small fees and the company claiming to attempt to simplify banking for consumers.
In the ninth spot, we have Sasol Limited, which was founded in Sasolburg in 1950 and are now headquartered in Sandton, South Africa. The energy and chemical company does business in over 30 countries, including its domestic South Africa, and is listed on the JSE and the NYSE. Sasol employs over 30,000 people globally and is the largest producer of fuel and chemicals from coal and gas across the globe.
Bid Corporation Limited, or Bidcorp, is a broad-line food service business with a footprint across the world. The company was divested from South African multinational in 2016, after which it went ahead with a public listing on the JSE. The split took place to enable existing Bidvest shareholders to additionally take ownership in Bidcorp’s business.
The company has operations in 5 continents. Its core business is F&B distribution to different establishments and retail food products. Its market cap has been steadily climbing since a low in October 2022, growing from roughly $5 billion to nearly $8 billion this year.
We hope this article has given you an insight into Africa’s and South Africa’s ten largest companies in terms of market capitalisation. This can hopefully be used as a stepping stone into new markets many traders may not have explored.
Now, you know enough to start trading African stocks. Head to the MetaTrader 4 (MT4) platform and start placing trades on your favourite stocks. The platform is easy to use, and with Hantec Markets, you can access a vast range of instruments to trade on the platform.
Additionally, we invite you to explore our latest blog post that delves into the fascinating realm of trillion-dollar companies.