MTN and Vodacom are also expected to buy tranches of 897,000 subscribers from Nashua Mobile, which is owned by Reunert, for a total of R2.26bn ($215m). Nashua previously offered services on South Africa’s two biggest networks.
A spokesperson for Reunert said: “The boards of Reunert and Nashua Mobile were required to consider the long term prospects for Nashua Mobile. After careful consideration, the boards concluded that it is unlikely that this business would generate acceptable returns.”
The balance of corporate power in Africa remains as concentrated in South Africa as ever. West and Eastern Africa account for just 10.07% and 2.89% respectively of the market capitalisation of the companies in our Top 250. North Africa accounts for another 12.94% but Southern Africa takes the remaining 74.10%. Indeed South Africa alone accounts for more than 70% of the total value of the Top 250.
Just 16 African countries are represented in the Top 250, leaving more than two-thirds of all states without any companies of sufficient scale for inclusion. Those excluded include countries of great economic import, including Algeria and Angola. It also excludes very large countries with big populations, such as Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.
As the third-biggest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, Angola might be expected to be a dominant player in this table. Yet its economy is based upon the export of crude oil and other raw materials, and its corporate map is dominated by international companies and state-owned firms, such as oil company Sonangol. Investment is now being made into rehabilitating the country’s road, rail and port infrastructure, in an attempt to diversify the economy.
However, it remains to be seen how willing the government will be to relax its grip on national economic life. Eastern Africa as a whole is enjoying a sustained period of economic growth. It is consistently outperforming the rest of the continent, yet the number of Eastern African companies in the Top 250 has fallen from 21 last year to 19 in this year’s table, leaving the region massively under represented in comparison with its population.
It appears that foreign firms, established members our Top 250 and local small and medium-sized enterprises are responsible for rising investment levels and high levels of economic growth. If sustained over many years, however, it would be reasonable to expect more companies from the region to feature in the African Business surveys in the future.
Kenyan banks in particular seem intent on developing their customer bases in other countries and so could move up the pecking order. Indeed, African banks from many countries could make their presence felt more fully in the upper echelons of our table if their pan-African expansion strategies go to plan.
The highest ranked of the many Nigerian banks in our table is Guaranty Trust Bank, in fifth position in our West African table and 33rd ranked in the Top 250. It already operates in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda as a result of its purchase of Fina Bank in February. In mid-April, chief executive Segun Agbaje, said: “The bank plans to open in one other country, probably Tanzania, Mozambique or Angola to deepen its retail banking in that region. Adding another country will give us a critical mass of population to drive a very profitable franchise.” It hopes that the plan will enable annual profit growth of 15%. Other Nigerian banks look set to follow suit.