An event with industry leaders from across Africa, hosted by the JSE in partnership with Geopoll, Kantar and Brand Leadership, Brand Africa announced the Top 100 brands in Africa in their 7th annual Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands. Nike, MTN, Dangote, Ecobank and BBC were recognised as the most admired brands on the continent.
Since 2011, the Brand Africa 100 has been surveying and ranking the most admired brands spontaneously recalled by African consumers.
In a relatively stable Top 100 list, the US sports and fitness mega brand, Nike, retains the overall #1 brand in Africa spontaneously recalled by consumers.
South African telecoms brand MTN is the #1 African brand spontaneously recalled brand, while surging Ethiopian brand Anbessa Shoes, at #2, swopped positions with Nigerian conglomerate, Dangote, which is the #3 most admired brand of African of origin.
However, when consumers are prompted to recall the most admired African brand, Dangote retains the #1 position.
Overall, African brands faltered to an all-time low 14% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa. Faced with a relentless focus on the African opportunity and investment by non-African brands, Africa’s share of the most admired brands has been rapidly declining over the past 3 years from a high of 25% in 2013/4 to lows of 16% in 2015/6, 16% in 2016/7 and 17% in 2017/8.
Non-African brands have entrenched their positions in Africa, with North American brands, dominated exclusively by United States of America brands (28%), leading with a growth of 17% versus 2017/8. The strength of USA brands was boosted by the entry and/or re-entry of stalwart American brands such as #71 Levi’s, #91 Chevrolet and Pepsi’s Miranda at #80, who are all among the 20 new entrants. European brands (41%) are up by 2,5% and Asian brands (17%) down by 10%, round up the continental spread of brands Africans admire.
The Brand Africa 100 rankings are based on a survey among a representative sample of respondents 18 years and older, conducted in 25 countries across Africa. Covering all African economic regions, collectively these countries account for an estimated 80% of the continent’s population and 75% of the GDP.
In a reconfigured category listing where technology and electronics and telecoms categories were separated and new categories of luxury and personal care were introduced or re-introduced, the Top 100 is dominated by technology and electronic brands (18%) and telecoms (7%), consumer (non-cyclical) (16%), auto manufacturers (11%), luxury (10%), automobile (11%), apparel (8%), retail (7%), food (4%), non-alcoholic beverages (5%), personal care (4%), sports & fitness (4%) and media (1%) categories are the top categories.
Overall, the 2018/19 Brand Africa 100 list, which is calculated from 15,000 brand mentions illustrates a very diversified range of brands in Africa and shows year on year consistency with 80% of the Top 100 brands having been in the Top 100 Most Admired Brands in previous years.
The highest gains are dominated by apparel and luxury brands Vans (+65), FILA (+50) and a resurgent Levi’s (+29). The sports category, led by Nike (#1), remains a strong performer, due to strategic repositioning or expansion in their positioning towards lifestyle high profile endorsements, and partnerships which have freshened and broadened the brands’ appeal, particularly to youthful and young consumers. The biggest faller was Peak Milk, dropping from 33 to 98, possibly due to the dairy industry globally seeing a significant drop in sales of cows’ milk as alternatives are becoming more and more popular amongst consumers. Victoria’s Secret and Indomie dropped 36 and 33 spots respectively.
Because of the transformational and catalytic impact of media and financial services in Africa, Brand Africa has a separate promoted question of the Most Admired Financial Services Brands and Most Admired Media Brands.
In the media sub-survey, DStv (incorporating GoTV, Multichoice and Supersport) has welcomed its brother the SABC onto the Top 10 media list. The media list is led by BBC, which has an extensive history and coverage of Africa through its BBC Worldservice radio and specific African programming. The media list is dominated by Europe (40%), North America (20%) and Asia (20%). A deeper analysis of the media category shows high levels of fragmentation, with many local and regional players – thus in general only global players with extensive African reach and resources dominate the top of the list.
In the Most Admired Financial Services Brands category, Ecobank has ascended to the #1 position as the Most Admired Financial Services Brand, and Safaricom Mpesa retains its pole position among mobile money brands. 60% of the are made in Africa. The presence of multiple mobile money brands on the list, including Safaricom Mpesa (#13), Orange Money (#18), MTN Mobile Money (#19) and Tigo (#23), underscores the impact of not only Mpesa as the catalyst, but mobile as a key enabler for financial access. The Top 25 Most Admired Financial Services Brands list is dominated by South Africa (6), Nigeria (5) and Kenya (2).
Highlights - Most Admired Brands in Africa:
“It is disappointing that despite its vibrant entrepreneurial environment, Africa is not creating new competitive brands to meet the needs of its growing consumer market, says Thebe Ikalafeng, Founder and Chairman of Brand Africa and Brand Leadership. “These rankings are an important metric of and challenge for creating home-grown competitive African brands that will transform the African promise and change its narrative and image as a competitive continent. African brands have an important role in helping to build the African brand.”
Google's decision to withhold its Android software from Huawei is being seen as the beginning of a technology cold war that could compel African countries - in the future - to choose between US and Chinese technology, analysts have told the BBC.
Most Africans connecting to the internet today are likely to be using a Chinese smartphone, powered by a Chinese-built network, and at least half of the time, it was built by Chinese tech giant, Huawei.
"Huawei built huge swathes of Africa's current IT infrastructure and if the US is successful in crippling the company, the aftershocks could be very painful for Africa's burgeoning tech sector that now relies on a company in Washington's crosshairs," Eric Olander, from the South Africa-based China Africa project, says.
US President Donald Trump has been leading a public campaign urging American allies to cut ties with Huawei, saying the company's technology, among other things, was a security risk because it allowed the Chinese government to spy.
The company has repeatedly denied the claims.
The US campaign could spark what Eric Schmidt, Google's former CEO, predicted would be the inevitable bifurcation of the internet, between a "Chinese-led internet and a non-Chinese internet led by America".
If this happens, Africa should not take sides, Harriet Kariuki, a Sino-African relations specialist, told the BBC.
"It's not our battle, we should instead focus on what works for us," she said.
African countries should instead come together to educate people about what is at stake, and hopefully agree on an EU-type data protection law to protect African consumers, Ms Kariuki said.
"This is probably the time Africa considers developing its own technologies relevant to its market instead of being passive consumers. I want to see African countries come together and push back against this creeping digital colonisation," she told the BBC.
'The African Union hack'
While the recent concern about Huawei has been focused on communications networks in the West, there are also allegations of a previous security breach in Africa.
Critics of Huawei operations point to a report in January 2018 in French newspaper Le Monde that found that the computer system at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, which was installed by Huawei, had allegedly been compromised.
The discovery found that for five years, between the hours of midnight and 0200, data from the AU's servers was transferred more than 8,000km away - to servers in Shanghai.
The allegations were denied by the African Union and Chinese officials.
African governments, even those with close security relationships with the US, have mostly sat out of the debate about Huawei - and the reasons are obvious.
Huawei runs a vast operation in Africa including being a major seller of smartphones.
It has built most of Africa's 4G internet network, Cobus van Staden, a Senior China-Africa researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, told the BBC.
The CEO of Kenya's telecom giant Safaricom Bob Collymore said Huawei had been a "great partner for many years".
"We would like to stick with our partners as much as we can, however there can be some practical difficulties if the embargo is on American companies working with Huawei because it is an interconnected business," he said in a recent speech.
The company, which opened its first office in Africa in 1998, is also in pole position to win contracts to roll out 5G network on the continent.
The super-fast network is touted as the internet iteration that will power "Internet of Things" technologies, smart cities, autonomous vehicles, and more.
"The scaling of Huawei's presence on the continent has been made possible by being the first company to exploit the potential of the IT economy in Africa, and having the wherewithal to support its projects," Mr Van Staden said.
"China's tied-aid conditions that requires African governments to work with Chinese companies, has also helped it," he added.
According to technology research firm IDC, Huawei is currently the fourth biggest smartphone seller in Africa, behind another Chinese company, Transsion, which makes the Tecno and Infinix brands, and Samsung. All four brands currently use Google's Android operating system.
Huawei's dominance and its relationship with governments in Africa could come in handy if the so-called tech cold war between China and the US threatens its African operations.
"Africa is the last tech market in the world and dominance in it would be key," Mr Van Staden said.
"Some people, like here in South Africa, where Huawei is a major player, are worried about being locked out of the Google ecosystem but Huawei could use the current situation to change the game".
"Few US companies know how to work in the African market, to make relevant products for consumers on the continent. Huawei, could use the current situation to change the calculus and develop softwares in languages that truly serves the African market," Mr van Staden said.
Most Africans are online today thanks to cheap Chinese phones and many are more concerned about the price of the gadgets and other features - like a dual SIM-card phone, and long battery life - than an operating system, he added.
US internet vs China internet
Iginio Gagliardone, author of China Africa and the Future of the Internet, agreed that the ongoing tussle between China and the US could just be what pushes Huawei to increase the use of its own software to support its burgeoning smartphone market.
But he told the BBC it wouldn't be cheap or easy to build this capacity.
It would also be difficult to export the closed internet model from China, which would mean requiring customers to use Baidu rather than Google and Sina Weibo instead of Twitter.
However, WeChat, a multipurpose app that combines social media platforms, messaging and mobile payments, could take off in Africa.
So will Africa be forced to make a choice?
"African countries should not choose a side, in fact it would be interesting if during this tech cold war it could form a non-aligned movement that looks after its interests," Mr Gagliardone said.
His research, despite suspicion, has not found any evidence that China has been actively urging countries in Africa to adopt its censored version of the internet.
"What you see is that China is providing products that have been requested by African governments," Mr Gagliardone said.
However, Mr Gagliardone thinks that China, in its push to protect its businesses, could leverage its relationship with African governments to develop protocols that give its companies an advantage over the West.
"I, however, don't see the consumer market being affected, I still see consumers continue to have access to different products to choose from," he said.
The ensuing tech cold war is an opportunity and the continent should not be forced to pick a side, according to Ms Kariuki.
However, according to Fazlin Fransman, from South Africa's Moja Research Institute, "the current internet and technology boom [in Africa] is in significant part because of the investment of Chinese tech companies.
Africa, in her view, has already picked a side, and it is China.
MTN Nigeria Communications Plc on Saturday said that it was being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over listing of its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
A statement posted on the exchange web site signed by MTN Nigeria Communications, Company Secretary, Uto Ukpanah confirmed the investigation.
The statement said that the company received a letter on May 23, from EFCC requesting information and documentation related to the listing of our shares on the NSE.
“MTN Nigeria has not been accused of any wrong doing by the EFCC.
“We wish to reiterate that we received all regulatory approvals required to list our shares on the NSE, as publicly confirmed by NSE and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
“As a law abiding and responsible corporate citizen, we are cooperating fully with the authorities.
”We are committed to good governance and to abiding by the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” said the statement.
There have been reports of scarcity of the shares since after its listing, which resulted to alleged price manipulation.
Consequently, some minority shareholders had decried the inability of retail investors to have access to the shares since May 16 after the listing.
They accused capital market regulators of conniving with MTN Nigeria Communications to allegedly manipulate the performance of the share price at the exchange.
They said that the MTN Nigeria did not meet the free float of 20 per cent before listing.
Sunny Nwosu, Founder, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), described the listing as “a fraudulent game.”
“Our conclusion as shareholders is that they have come to play us a game which is not far from fraudulent game, the nominal value of MTN shares is not certain.
“These are areas I think SEC should ask NSE questions rather than the issue of gifts sharing at AGMS and ban of pre-AGM.
“We are not certain of MTN, up till now no prospective shareholder can tell you this is what MTN Nigeria stands for,” Nwosu said.
He said that the exchange had set a bad precedent in the market by allowing some companies to list without meeting the free float requirement thereby cresting a bad image.
But the NSE recently said that the total number of MTN shares in the hands of over 700 Nigerians, who are not promoters, controlling interests, directors, that were unbundled upon listing was about 1.8 billion.
Some farmers in Borno have called for deployment of military and other security personnel to farmlands, to protect them against attack by Boko Haram insurgents this cropping season.
They also called for modern preservation technologies to enhance processing and reduction in damage to agricultural produce.
A cross section of the farmers made the call on Saturday at some fields in Jere and Mafa Local Government Areas of the state.
Malam Ali Bukar, a beans grower at Keyamla plantation, said the call was imperative to protect them from attack by the insurgents.
Bukar alleged that the insurgents had recently coordinated attacks against farmers and loggers, a trend which forced most of them to abandon their farmlands.
“As the cropping season sets in; farmers could not work in the farms now for fear of the insurgents’ attacks.
“Many farmers were attack and killed during the dry season activity in various farming communities in the outskirt of Maiduguri and other local government areas,” he said.
Alhaji Muhammad Hassan, the Chairman of Rice Farmers Association, (RIFAN) Zabalmari community in Jere LGA, added that proactive measures were necessary to encourage farmers to cultivate their lands during the season.
Hassan noted that farmers at Zabalmari, Koshebe and adjourning communities in Jere and Mafa could not till their farmlands due to attacks by the insurgents.
He said that many farmers were killed by the insurgents during the dry season activities in the area.
Hassan said that “We call for deployment of military and other security personnel to protect farmers in the fields.
“We are making preparations for cropping activities but attack by the insurgents is a source of worry to farmers.
“Deployment of personnel and other security measures are necessary to ensure protection, mobilize participation and encourage agricultural activities”.
However, Hassan commended the military and other security agencies over the protection of farmers and improvement of security situation which he said enabled them achieve bumper harvest during the previous farming activities in the state.
Hassan also called for distribution of fertilisers and inputs to farmers at subsidized rate, adding that they procured the inputs at exorbitant prices in the market.
Kaka Modu and Mustapha Isa, who corroborated the earlier position, also called for modern preservation technologies to reduce wastage of agricultural produce.
Isa said that lack of such technologies was making crop and perishable produce cultivation less attractive, as they could not be preserved for a longer period of time.
He noted that farmers sold their produce at lower prices at harvest to avoid losses.
Some of the produce cultivated by farmers includes rice, wheat, beans, sorghum, maize, tomato; onions, pepper, carrot, cucumber, cabbage, lettuce and water melon.
Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), had donated tractors, fertilisers and inputs to Gudumbali resettled farming community during the previous cropping season.
The army also extended similar gesture and deployed troops to many resettled farming communities to protect farmers and encourage agricultural activities in the state.