Safaricom tops EA’s list of most valuable firms

Saturday August 14 2021

Safaricom, which started its operations in 2000, has grown from a subscriber base of 26,000 people in 2001 to about 40 million subscribers currently. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Kenyan companies dominated East African and Mauritius most valuable brands in the three months to June 30, with Safaricom being the highest prized brand in the region.

According to the latest quarterly market report by analysts at AfricanFinancials Group titled The East Africa & Mauritius Top 30 Companies, Kenya leads with 14 companies followed by Mauritius with eight, Tanzania with six, Uganda and Rwanda with one each.

Safaricom’s dominance signals its resilience amid Covid-triggered shocks, which have impacted earnings and the shareholder wealth of most companies. The report shows that Safaricom — which is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and has pan-African ambitions — controls close to 50 percent of the total market capitalisation of the top 30 companies in the region.

According to the report, Safaricom is the most valuable brand in East Africa and Mauritius with a market capitalisation of $15.39 billion followed by the Mauritius Commercial Bank ($1.59 billion ), Equity Bank ($1.53 billion), Tanzania Breweries ($1.38 billion ), East African Breweries Ltd ($1.32 billion), KCB Bank ($1.26 billion), Co-operative Bank ($750 million), Tanzanian Vodacom ($744 million), Tanzania Cigarette ($733 million) and Mauritian Ireland Blyth ($633 million). Other valuable brands in the region include Tanzania’s National Microfinance Bank ($505 million), Absa Kenya ($499 million), BAT Kenya ($417 million), Stanchart Kenya ($413 million) and Stanbic Uganda ($379 million).

Valuable brands

The report notes that although Safaricom is the most valuable company in the region, the banking industry dominated the list of valuable brands with 16 banking stocks followed by manufacturing (six), telecoms (two) and power and others (six). During the three months to June 30, Safaricom’s share price rose 12 percent to Ksh41.45 ($0.38) per share, translating to a market capitalisation of $15.39 billion, with a return on equity of 11.5 percent, partly buoyed by its Ethiopian entry plan. On a yearly basis, the telco’s stock increased by 43 percent to Ksh41.45 ($0.38) per share on June 30, from Ksh28.65 ($0.26) on June 30, 2020.


During the second quarter of this year, foreign investor participation on the Kenyan bourse declined to 58.73 percent from 60.37 percent in the first quarter, largely due to profit taking after the quarter’s dividend book closure, according to the Capital Markets Authority. In 2020, another survey by South Africa’s African Business Magazine on Africa’s top 250 companies ranked the Kenyan telco the most valuable company in the East African region, with a market capitalisation of $9.96 billion and a net income of $598 million.

Safaricom, which derives most of its income from its money payment platform M-Pesa and data, is keen on the Ethiopian market as it implements its pan-African expansion boosted by its attractive liquidity position and the backing of both the Kenyan government and the South African telecom giant Vodacom.

Last year, Safaricom and Vodacom acquired the M-Pesa brand, including product development and support services. This acquisition is expected to boost their expansion in the Africa market. Safaricom shareholders have already approved the telco’s proposal to set up its Ethiopian subsidiary — Safaricom Telecommunications Ethiopia Plc — which is expected to start operations next year. The subsidiary was set up in early July after the consortium — The Global Partnership for Ethiopia — led by the Kenyan-based mobile phone operator was awarded a permit to operate telecommunication services in Africa’s second-most populous country, with over 100 million people.

Safaricom, which started its operations in 2000, has grown from a subscriber base of 26,000 people in 2001 to about 40 million subscribers currently. In March 2007, the telco launched the mobile money transfer platform M-Pesa and in 2020 it acquired the M-Pesa brand through a joint venture with Vodacom, known as M-Pesa Africa Ltd. So far, M-Pesa, the first mobile money transfer service in the world, has over 28 million customers.