Africa’s fastest growing companies are in Kenya and Nigeria, a new FT survey shows

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  • Companies from Kenya and Nigeria dominate the top of a new list of the fastest-growing enterprises in Africa.
  • The first South African company ranks at number 10.
  • South Africa has more companies in the list than any other country, many of them in the business of digging out platinum.
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The two fastest-growing companies in Africa are in Kenya, according to a new ranking released by the Financial Times on Tuesday, and five of the top ten are in Nigeria.

South Africa dominates the list numerically, with more entries than any other country – but the first SA company features only at number 10. And, were it not for SA's precious metals, Nigeria would have claimed that title too.

The FT created the inaugural list with research company Statista, and it ranks companies on the continent based on their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue between 2017 and 2020.

Some companies are missing from the list, the British paper says, for reasons that include private companies refusing to make public their revenue figures. The survey required a chief executive or similar senior figure to certify revenue numbers.

Companies with less than $100,000 in revenue in 2017, and less than $1.5 million by 2020, were excluded, as were subsidiaries and branches of other companies.

Every company had to have its headquarters in an African country, and its revenue growth had to be organic.

That made for a list of 75 companies that had grown between 8,800% (Kenya's Wasoko) and 26% (Morocco's Hightech Payment Systems) over the three-year period.

Of the 24 South African companies, seven are in the mining business, and four of those are in platinum: Northam Platinum, Royal Bafokeng Platinum, Anglo American Platinum, and Impala Platinum. 

Another two mine gold, Harmony Gold, and Gold Fields.

Those mining companies, or their predecessors, are hardly modern startups, with roots going back more than a hundred years. Two other SA companies on the list are also of venerable years, Naspers (established in 1915)  and Sea Harvest (established in 1964).

At number ten, Northam Platinum is South Africa's highest entry, with growth of 331.7%. That puts it behind Nigeria's West African Soy Industries at nine and Kawai Technologies at eight, both with growth of more than 500%.

However, Northam is the first company on the list that qualifies as a mass employer, with 18,288 staff – ten times more than the total headcount for the nine companies ahead of it.

Nigeria is on the list 20 times, and Kenya has nine companies featured, compared to South Africa's 24.

The South African companies on the list established since 2000 are:

  • Long4Life
  • Spark Schools
  • Yoco
  • Stor-Age
  • Entelect
  • Sygnia
  • Leatt
  • The Training Room Online
  • Opennetworks
  • HearX
  • Afrimat
  • Transaction Capital
  • Zulu Lounge

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