There are about 5 million small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa. These companies are the backbone of the private sector and play a key role in the economic growth and development of the continent as a whole. In spite of facing challenging working environments, small and medium-sized enterprises generate in fact around 58% of total employment and contribute to 33% of Africa’s gross domestic product.
Africa’s growth trajectory is projected to remain above 5% in 2014. Behind this remarkable figure, we find the work of many of these companies, real contributors to the social and economic fabric of the region. Today, the World Economic Forum welcomes 16 African enterprises to its community of Global Growth Companies (GGCs).
GGCs are fast-growing companies with the clear potential to become global economic leaders based on such factors as their business models, growth record, leadership and the markets they serve. Most of them have consistently experienced growth rates above their industry average in the past three years and are engines of the economies in which they operate. The Forum’s GGC community currently brings together over 360 companies with these characteristics, coming from more than 65 countries.
Amongst the newly selected GGCs for Africa, there are companies such as Nation Media Group (Kenya), the largest independent media company in East Africa; UAC of Nigeria Plc (Nigeria), holding company active in the food, beverages, real estate, paints, and logistics sectors; Computer Warehouse Group (Nigeria), one of the fastest growing information and communication technology companies on the continent; The Simba Group (Uganda), the largest mobile phone retailer in East Africa; Webber Wentzel (South Africa), amongst the most dynamic and high-growth companies in the field of legal advice; and Capitec Bank (South Africa), granting special attention to those in the lower socio economic spectrum.
The 16 newly selected GGC companies represent the economic dynamism within the region and highlights the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that Africa needs. Although they come from a variety of market backgrounds, what brings them together is their ability to exceed industry standards in revenue growth, promote innovative business practices, and provide excellent track records of leadership and corporate global citizenship.
Author: David Aikman is Managing Director at the World Economic Forum
Image: An aerial view shows the central business district in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, April 7, 2009.