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Africa’s 16 Global Growth Companies, by the World Economic Forum

By John Bambridge on 26.05.2014.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has recognised 16 African companies as ‘Global Growth Companies’ (GGCs) among the ‘trailblazers, shapers and innovators’ helping to shape Africa with revenue growth, the promotion of innovation and leadership in corporate citizenship.

David Aikman, MD of Head of New Champions at the WEF, highlighted: “We are proud to recognize these 16 champions at the forefront of driving responsible economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurism in Africa to foster inclusive, sustainable growth in the region.”

“We are proud to recognize these 16 champions at the forefront of driving responsible economic growth, job creation and entrepreneurism.”

Of the companies identified by World Economic Forum, half a dozen each hail from South Africa and Nigeria, two from Kenya, and one more both Uganda and Mauritius. Outlined by Gulf Africa Review, by country and loosely by turnover, the WEF’s 16 GGCs are as follows:

Capitec Bank Holdings (South Africa): Licensed in 2001, Capitec Bank is a locally-controlled commercial bank that has taken great strides in the sector by putting forward the claim that it simplifies the customer’s banking experience. The bank maintains an asset base in excess of $739m, including 500 retail branches for its 3.7 million customers, and $200m in shareholders’ equity, while generating annual revenue in excess of $1 billion.

Net1 UEPS Technologies (South Africa): Originally Net1 Applied Technologies Holdings or Aplitec, Net1 began as the intellectual rights holder for Universal Electronic Payment System (UEPS) Technologies in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland. In 2004, the US iteration of Net 1 acquired Aplitec before floating on the NASDAQ in 2005 and the JSE in 2008. The joint-listed interest now exhibits strong growth in both the US and Africa, with a 2013 revenue figure of $452m.

Growthpoint Properties (South Africa): Registered in 1987 and with a portfolio of over 400 directly-owned properties in South Africa, as well as 49 properties in Australia and a 50% interest in the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, Growthpoint is the largest listed property company on the JSE. The company's primary business is long-term investment in rentals, including interests in regional shopping centres, and in 2013 the firm’s combined assets elevated its revenue to $291m.

KZN Oils (South Africa): The sale of four barrels of diesel fuel would effectively launch KZN Oils in South Africa 1998, at a time when CEO Rajen Reddy was selling stationery to make ends meet as he attempted to market his fledgling company to the government and commercial sectors in a largely closed oil market. The turnover for that year hit $10,000 – a figure that has long been eclipsed by KZN's present revenue, hitting $67m in 2013 as the firm supplied 120 million litres of fuel to end-users.

Webber Wentzel (South Africa): One of the “Big 5 law firms” in South Africa, Webber Wentzel is an African law firm headquartered in Johannesburg that operates in a collaborative alliance with global law firm Linklaters. The company, which was founded in 1868, is the only large South African law firm to retain a traditional partnership rather than limited liability organisation. The firm employs has 800 employees – half of them attorneys – and remains closed on revenue figures.

Tekkie Town (South Africa): A South African shoe chain built on the back of enterprising deals with brands like Caterpillar and Reebok, Tekkie Town was founded by managing director Braam van Huyssteen in 2001. Today the firm has come to dominate the sports and lifestyle footwear market and manages upwards of 250 stores with a company focuses on customer service and covering subserviced rural areas – all the while maintaining a stanch resistance to product price inflation.

UAC of Nigeria:  With a history dating back to the 1879 merger of four Niger river trading companies, the United Africa Company of Nigeria has been contributing to the Nigerian economy for the over a century. Originally incorporated in Lagos in 1931 as a subsidiary of Unilever, but now 60%-owned by Nigerian individuals and associations following the enactment of Nigerian enterprise legislation, it runs one of the largest diversified private sector businesses, recording $482m in turnover in 2013.

Notore Chemical Industries (Nigeria): Notore is one of the leading fertiliser and agro-allied companies in Africa. Located at Onne sea port in Rivers State, Nigeria, it has operated the only urea fertilizer plant in sub-Saharan Africa since 1987, significantly improving both agricultural yields and the living standards of an estimated 14 million farming households. Notore regularly handles revenues in excess of $400m, and the possibility of an IPO has now been under discussion for a number of years.

Nagode Group (Nigeria): The family-owned Nagode group started off in the East African textiles industry in the 1960s, before moving West in the 1970s. Incorporated in Nigeria in 1988, it now encompasses manufacturing, distribution, logistics and services, and generates around $200m in revenue. While based in Lagos, it has offices in Abuja, Kano, Aba and Onitsha; operations in Cameroon; and international offices in Dubai, India, China and South Korea.

Seplat Petroleum Development Company (Nigeria): Seplat is an oil and gas company operating leases in the Niger Delta amounting to 60 million barrels of oil and 105 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Founded in 2009 and listed in Lagos with a market capitalisation of $2.33bn, in July 2010 it acquired a 45% participating interest in three leases in Nigeria’s Edo and Delta states, additionally becoming the first indigenous oil company to own and operate such assets.

Computer Warehouse Group (Nigeria): CWG began operations in 1992 as Computer Warehouse Ltd, and with just four staff members, but rapidly evolved into an IT powerhouse that has transformed Africa’s technological landscape. Under Austin Okere, founder and CEO, CWG has grown into a Pan-African group with a turnover of $120m and 650 staff across Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Cameroon, while its listing on the Lagos bourse in November priced it as the highest capitalised ICT security.

Interswitch Limited (Nigeria): Founded in Nigeria in 2002 by managing director Mitchell Elegbe, Interswitch is a transaction processing company that provides payment infrastructure and advisory services to upwards of 25 banks and both government and corporate organisations. From humble beginnings as an electronic alternative to cash payments within Nigeria, the firm has expanded to Uganda and The Gambia and built up revenues in excess of $50m.

Bidco Oil Refineries (Kenya): Established in 1970 as a textile manufacturer in Nyeri, Kenya, by Bhimji Depar Shah, Bidco shifted to soap manufacture in Nairobi in 1985 following the liberalisation of the textile industry, before opening a plant oil refinery at Thika in 1991. Today, Bidco markets more than 40 brands to a customer base of over 100 million people across 15 countries in Africa, and consistently posts revenue figures in excess of $450m.

Nation Media Group (Kenya): Founded by His Highness the Aga Khan IV in 1959, NMG is the largest independent media house in East and Central Africa and commands revenues of $140m. The group has been quoted on the NSE since the early 1970s, and notably launched NTV, a news channel in Kenya, and Easy FM in 1999. The media house also owns 76.5% of Uganda’s Monitor papers and KFM radio station, and 60% of Mwananchi Communications in Tanzania.

GML (Mauritius): Already Mauritius’ biggest company by revenue at $965m, GML’s financial and retail operations represents about out 6.9% of the country’s GDP, and it holds stakes in Ireland Blyth Limited (IBL) Group, Phoenix Beverages, United Basalt Products, LUX Resorts, AfrAsia Bank, Alteo and Alentari. GML has 13,000 employees and over 22,000 shareholders and funds the non-profit GML Fondation Joseph Lagesse and its GML Think Green programme.

Simba Group (Uganda): Uganda’s Simba Group is a multi-faceted indigenous company and, through Simba telecom, the largest prepaid mobile and mobile money distributor in East Africa – with division revenues of $80m. Simba also owns and operates the Protea Kampala hotel and apartments in Nairobi and Tanzania, and in agriculture and energy operates two Ugandan farms and a 70 MW power plant, and is planning to commission a 1 MW biomass pilot by 2014.

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