For over 15 years African Business has been running an annual ranking of Africa’s 250 Top Companies, taking the top listed companies from national and regional stock exchanges across Africa. In this article we focus on the top 20 companies from East African countries that appeared in the ranking in 2021.
The Nairobi Securities Exchange All Share Index had a strong year with a gain of more than 24% for local currency investors, reversing its fall in the year to March 2020 but not recovering ground lost in 2019. The shilling did not do so well, sliding back against the dollar on worries about the mounting debt burdens and whether some of the infrastructure investment is well managed.
Dynamic telco Safaricom, a world pioneer and still a leader for mobile money, is the top East African firm on the list, edging up from #10 to #9 in the continental ranking, with a strong climb in market capitalisation to $13.3bn.
Kenya and other East African countries are less dependent on resources and especially oil. Kenya and others have diversified economies, although Kenya has been hit by the decline in tourism and agriculture has been affected by locust swarms.
Other leading Kenyan companies are competitive local banks Equity Group and KCB, vying with each other at #92 and #98 in the main ranking, and expanding to snap up opportunities in central Africa and other regions.
Kenya is forecast to be one of the top performers of the recovery although non-performing loans spiked higher and will need careful management to avoid closing businesses and losing jobs. Forecast growth in Kenya is 5% in 2021 and 5.9% in 2022.
Tanzania maintained reported growth of 2.1% in 2020, although its official figures were viewed with suspicion by some analysts and the government neglected Covid-19.
Tanzania Breweries is the second biggest East African company in our Top 250 but its $1.4bn market capitalisation stalled, leading to a decline from #75 to #90 in the continental ranking. Previous rising stars Vodacom Tanzania and Tanzania Cigarette Company both slipped backwards.
East Africa as a whole had growth of 5.3% in 2019, 0.7% in 2020 and 3% real GDP growth is forecast in 2021 rising to 5.6% in 2022.
The region’s share of the Top Companies report could grow if Ethiopia accelerates plans to open a stock exchange. The central National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) published a draft Capital Markets Establishment Proclamation for consultation in the second half of 2020.
© Data provided by Emerging Markets Investment Management Limited and also in-house research. Data as at 31/03/2021. Data relates to listed companies only. Dual listings on African exchanges were excluded.