Traffic flows along Kenyatta avenue in downtown Nairobi, Kenya
Downtown Nairobi, home to top-ranked company Wasoko © Thomas Mukoya/Reuters

The inaugural FT annual ranking of Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies (below) provides a snapshot of corporate landscape in a continent where technology, fintech and support-service businesses have had to adapt to a radically altered environment.

Chief among the recent challenges has been operating within the tough restrictions introduced by many African governments to combat Covid-19. In the end, outside of South Africa and parts of north Africa, the health impact has been less severe than many feared. But the economic consequences of lockdown — especially in crowded urban settings where many live hand to mouth — have been devastating.

A possible silver lining is that the pandemic has accelerated business trends already under way. From banks to education providers, and from start-ups to established businesses, companies have shifted further online and sought fresh solutions for customers and societies as a whole.

Wasoko, formerly Sokowatch, which heads the ranking, is one of several on the continent seeking to cut the cost of doing business in the massive informal commerce sector, by helping to deliver goods to traders more efficiently. The Kenyan company achieved the highest compound annual growth in revenues between 2017 and 2020 and, in March, raised $125mn in a Series B funding round.

Kenya is the third most represented country in the ranking, with nine companies, behind South Africa (24) and Nigeria (20), and ahead of Egypt (six). These are also the markets that have attracted the most venture capital and where unicorns (companies valued at $1bn+) and would-be unicorns have proliferated.

Many of the fastest-growing companies, especially in fintech sector, are those seeking to tap Africa’s unbanked population, or markets that have previously been underserved or ignored. The health and education sectors, for example — spurred by unmet need and rising aspirations — are among those offering most scope for growth.

Not all the fastest-expanding companies are high-tech, however. Some, such as AfricaWorks, offer co-working spaces — a real estate model that has had its difficulties but could plausibly benefit from hybrid post-Covid working patterns. More traditional companies, among them miners and construction firms, also make the list, proving that not all fast growth is digital.

Still, much attention is likely to be paid to the innovative start-ups now attracting record funding, many of which are touting scaleable solutions to Africa’s deep-seated problems. It will be worth watching the FT’s Africa ranking in years ahead to find out which companies prove enduring enough to move the needle.

This inaugural FT list was compiled with Statista, a research company, and ranks African companies by their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue, between 2017 and 2020. Readers can also use the arrows at the top of columns in the table below to sort companies by country, by sector or by revenue.

Because many fast-growing companies are privately held and do not publicly disclose detailed financial data, a ranking such as this can never claim to be complete. But the rigorous screening process (see methodology, below), which also requires senior executives to sign off on the figures submitted by their companies, means the ranking can offer a meaningful insight into the health of these private businesses.

Scroll below the table for the full methodology.

Methodology

Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies 2022 lists 75 companies, ordered by the highest compound annual growth (CAGR) in revenues between 2017 and 2020, based on the criteria outlined below.

The ranking was created through a complex procedure. Although the search was extensive, the list is not exhaustive as some companies did not want to make their figures public or did not participate for other reasons.

Statista identified thousands of companies in Africa as potential candidates for the ranking, through research in company databases and other public sources. These companies were invited to participate in the competition by post and email.

The project was also advertised online and in print, allowing all eligible companies to register online via Statista or the Financial Times between October 6, 2021 and February 15, 2022.

The process required submitted revenue figures to be certified by the chief executive, chief financial officer or an executive committee member of the company.

Following the application phase, Statista examined the officially stated revenue data of about 900 public companies in Africa. High-profile companies that met the criteria for inclusion were added to the list (27 in total). The data were collected through research using official sources, such as publicly available earning presentations, investor relations websites, or annual reports.

Criteria for inclusion

  • Revenue of at least US $100.000 generated in 2017. (1)

  • Revenue of at least US $1.5mn generated in 2020. (1)

  • An independent company (not a subsidiary or branch office of any kind).

  • A company with operational headquarters located in one of the African countries. (2)

  • Revenue growth between 2017 and 2020 that was primarily organic (ie “internally” stimulated).

  1. Countries that do not use the dollar to express revenues had to provide the average local currency value equivalent over the course of the relevant fiscal year.

  2. All countries on the African continent were eligible to participate.

Calculation of Compound Annual Growth Rates

The calculation of company growth rates is based on the revenue figures submitted by the companies in their respective national currencies. The revenue figures were then converted into US dollars for better comparability in the ranking. The average exchange rate for the financial year indicated by the company was used for this purpose.

The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) was calculated as follows:

((revenue 2020 / revenue 2017)^(1/3)) — 1 = CAGR

Evaluation and quality assurance

All data reported by the companies were processed and checked by Statista. Missing data entries (employee numbers, address data, etc) were researched in detail. Companies that did not fulfil the criteria for inclusion in the ranking were deleted.

The minimum CAGR required to be included in the ranking this year was 7.99 per cent.

Companies wishing to participate in next year’s ranking should email ft-africa@statista.com.

This ranking has been amended to correct a data error

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022. All rights reserved.
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