Africa’s Top 100 Brands in 2019 – Global brands dominate Africa

With global behemoths Nike, Coca-Cola and Facebook setting their sights on African expansion, are local brands competing?


This is our 2019 survey of Africa’s Top 100 Brands. Click here to view this year’s survey.

African brands have faltered as global brands entrench their positions in Africa. Brand Africa founder and Brand Leadership chairman Thebe Ikalafeng gives a perspective on the latest Brand Africa 100 ranking.

Despite optimism for Africa’s economic recovery and with GDP growth projected at 4% in 2019 by the African Development Bank, the number of African brands in our ranking have declined by 18% in Brand Africa 100’s 2019 ranking of the top 100 Most Admired Brands in Africa. 

Brand Africa 100 is a valuation and ranking of the Best Brands in Africa based on the brand’s financial performance and consumer admiration. This creates a unique index, which is published annually by African Business Magazine.

Facing renewed investment by non-African brands, Africa’s share of the most admired brands has been rapidly declining over the past three years from a high of 25% in 2013/4 to a low of 14% this year – down from 17% in 2017/8. 

Non-African brands have entrenched their position, with North American brands, dominated exclusively by the USA (28%), leading with growth of 17% in a year and buoyed by the entry or re-entry of stalwart brands such as Levi’s (71), Chevrolet (91), and Pepsi’s Miranda (80) among the 20 new entrants. 

European brands are up by 2.5%, comprising 41% of the ranking, while Asian brands declined by 10% to 17% overall.

South African telecoms giant, MTN (8) and Nigerian conglomerate, Dangote (25), have been joined by Ethiopia’s surging Anbessa Shoe (12) – which commands a 65% to 70% market share of the Ethiopian local shoe retail business – in the top three brands spontaneously recalled by African consumers.

The highest debut brand, Vans (35), is at the nexus of two broader fashion trends among today’s youth – athleisure and retro/vintage. The firm is now ranked the No. 2 footwear brand behind Nike in Piper Jaffray’s “Taking Stock with Teens” survey, where Vans has seen the fastest growth in popularity of any brand in the study’s 15+ year history.

In a diversified portfolio, technology (18%), consumer (16%) and auto manufacturers (11%) are the dominant three categories. 

The sports category, which is dominated by the heritage sports brands Nike (1), Adidas (2), Puma (6) and Fila (49), was energised by global sports events such as the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018, strategic partnerships such as Puma’s partnership with hip hop icon Jay Z and Fila’s partnerships with trend setting celebrities Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, A$AP and Rocky.

Flagging African fortunes

South Africa, with five entries, and Nigeria, with four, lead a declining African challenge to the Top 100. 

The only new African entrants/re-entrants in the Top 100 are the 52-year-old South African retailer, Pick n Pay returning to the Top 100 at 84 and Jumia, Africa’s largest e-commerce firm, which had a spectacular debut on the New York stock market in April, which makes its debut at 74.  

Leading African brands, Tusker (-28), Shoprite (-14) and Tiger (-15) all lost significant share. Tiger Brands exited non-core categories in Kenya and Ethiopia and refocused in South Africa. Shoprite, which owns more than 2,800 outlets across Africa, experienced its biggest earnings fall in 20 years due to low food inflation, stock availability challenges and currency devaluations that have adversely affected profitability. 

Other than Anbessa, which climbed 11 positions in a remarkable surge since it was privatised in 2012, and Econet (+9), the rest of the Top 5 mainstay African brands, MTN (-2), Dangote (-4) and Glo (-6), all declined.

Most Admired African Brands

African Brands By Region

When respondents are asked to rank brands without being prompted, MTN, Africa’s leading mobile provider with a dominant presence in a majority of the over 20 markets in which it operates, ranks as the No. 1 Most Admired African Brand. But the firm has been overtaken by Dangote for the second year in a row as the No. 1 Most Admired African Brand when respondents are prompted to specifically name an African brand. Tanzania’s Azam, which dropped out of the Top 100 spontaneous list, remains among the Most Admired African Brands, when prompted.

While 28% of the Top 25 Most Admired African Brands (prompted) are new, the top three brands, Dangote, MTN and Anbessa remain unchanged.

Reflecting the rising importance of connectivity in Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia  have seen their respective domestic airlines, Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airways, catapulted onto the Top 25 Most Admired African Brands.


Coveting luxury in Africa

A growing middle class across many African markets led by South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya in sub-Saharan Africa has created a market segment with an aspiration for luxury goods. 

While not every consumer can afford to shop in Johannesburg’s Sandton City “Diamond Walk” wing, which houses luxury brands stores including Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, there is an increasing demand for both authentic luxury brands and a thriving counterfeit marketplace. 

Among the Top 100, Gucci (9), Ralph Lauren (33), Lacoste (37), Versace (42), Chanel (43), Louis Vuitton (46), Dolce & Gabbana (60), Rolex (88), Victoria’s Secret (89) and Fendi (100) make up 10% of the Top 100 Most Admired Brands in Africa.

Connecting Africans

Media and financial services have been key enabling categories in the transformation of Africa – making it easy to communicate and transact across borders. 

While the media category remains fragmented, with numerous local and regional brands in all markets, the financial services category is relatively consolidated – with 64% of the Top 25 financial services brands, led by Togo’s Ecobank (1), South Africa’s FNB (2) and ABSA (3) among the Top 10, all made in Africa and pan-African.  

African Brands By Category

 Underpinning the catalytic importance of mobile technology in Africa, 20% of the Top 25 financial services brands are driven by mobile operators, led by M-pesa, Safaricom’s standard-setting mobile money transfer brand, and joined by Orange Money, MTN Money, Tigo Money and Airtel Money.

To understand the overarching African media landscape, the survey includes a focus on media channels that cover a significant number of African markets.

Other than South Africa’s DSTV (incorporating GoTV, Multichoice and Supersport), the leading sub-Saharan African direct broadcast satellite service and No. 2 Most Admired African media brand, and SABC, which has a strong reach enabled by the DSTV platform, all the broadcast brands are non-African. They include  BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera.

The list is dominated by North America (CNN and VOA), European (BBC, RFI and Canal +) and Asian (Al Jazeera) broadcasters.



It is disappointing that despite its vibrant entrepreneurial environment, Africa is not creating new competitive brands to meet the needs of its growing consumer market, which is estimated by McKinsey  & Co to grow by $400bn by 2020. 

The African Union’s much promoted initiative for a Single African Air Transport Market, which aims to remove restrictions on Africans’ ability to travel, and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement unveiled in Kigali, Rwanda in 2018, creating the world’s largest free trade single market of 1.2bn people with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion, will create an enviable market opportunity for African entrepreneurs to collaborate and create pan-African brands that can compete with non-African brands. 

If African brands do not take the opportunity, African brands will continue to decline in preference among African consumers.

Analysis by Brand Leadership’s Thebe Ikalafeng with Tshepang Makofane, Reahile Ramathesele, Thabani Khumalo and Brian Bogopa.

Brand Africa 100™ is a valuation and ranking of the Best Brands in Africa. The valuation is a multi-tier royalty relief methodology that blends a brand’s financial performance and consumer admiration to create a unique index and ranking.

Brand Africa 100™ was developed by Brand Africa in partnership with Brand Finance plc, the world’s leading independent valuation consultancy and TNS, the globally respected consumer knowledge and information company. The rankings are published annually by African Business Magazine.

Read Africa’s Top 100 Brands in 2020

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