Africa’s top 250 companies in 2023: South African firms still dominate
At first sight, our survey of the Top 250 biggest listed companies in Africa suggests that they have endured a difficult year. Combined market capitalisation has fallen considerably since our 2022 survey, from $701bn to $561bn, and is well below the record $948bn achieved in 2015.
The 2022 figure represented, however, a strong recovery from the low of $556bn recorded in 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many companies enjoyed a temporary bounce from the release of pent-up demand. Yet this year’s market capitalisation has drifted below the lows of the pandemic – and much more needs to be done to support the growth of a vibrant private sector across the continent.
Our table (see below) is based on market value at the end of March 2023 (see below for our methodology). As always, many of Africa’s biggest companies, including state-owned firms and those held in private hands, are not included because they are not listed on any stock exchange.
According to a recent McKinsey study, of the 438 African companies with revenues in excess of $1bn, 60% were privately owned and 25% were subsidiaries of foreign-domiciled multinationals.
The continent’s biggest oil firms, such as Sonatrach from Algeria and Sonangol from Angola, would be among the very largest companies if they were listed.
The Angolan government has pledged to list Sonangol on the Angola Stock Exchange, but the timetable for this has repeatedly slipped and the current target date is in 2027.
South African companies still dominate
The lion’s share of this year’s fall is due to big drops in the value of South African stocks, from $488bn to $375bn over the past year. The position of South African companies within the pan-African corporate landscape is particularly interesting.
Stock values on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) have tumbled in dollar terms over the past year through a variety of factors, including the falling value of the rand; the underlying weakness of the South African economy; and the impact of low infrastructural investment on power supplies and transport reliability.
This is reflected in our survey, with the number of South African entries in our Top 250 falling from 133 last year to 96 in our 2023 rankings.
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