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HomeWealthSouth African Companies Operating In Other Countries In Africa

South African Companies Operating In Other Countries In Africa

The World Bank classifies South Africa as an upper-middle-income economy. The crime prone nation has the second-largest economy in Africa, and the 34th-largest in the world. South Africa, or the rainbow nation if you will, is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Foreigners working and doing business in the country have become targets of xenophobic attacks. Nigerians residing in South Africa have been hard hit and have retaliated by vandalizing companies owned the latter. This writer takes a look at companies owned by South Africans operating outside their country.

MTN Group

MTN is a South African mobile telecommunications group which operates in 21 countries across Africa and the Middle East.

The company which recently crossed the 200m subscribers mark, has a reputation for doing business in countries perceived to be tough business environments, such as Syria and Afghanistan.

Nigeria acts as one of MTN’s biggest international success stories where it is the market leader with over 55m subscribers.

MTN bought one of the three mobile licences on offer in Nigeria in 2001, when the country was just emerging from decades of military rule and failed attempts at democracy.

The group already bought a stake in Africa Internet Holding, which owns a number of ecommerce websites across the continent. It is also focusing on its MTN mobile money platform and broader financial services offerings.

Aspen Holdings

It is Africa’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer.

Aspen Holdings supplies branded and generic pharmaceuticals in more than 150 countries across the world, and consumer and nutritional products in selected territories.

The company has 18 pharmaceutical manufacturing sites in six continents. Four of the sites are located in South Africa, three in Australia, while Germany, Tanzania, Kenya, Brazil and Mexico has one site each.

In 2003 it launched the first antiretroviral (ARV) drug developed and manufactured in Africa. Aspen is regarded as one of the leading global players in generic ARVs.

The company was started by its chief executive Stephen Saad in a suburban home in 1997, when he was 33-years-old.


Founded in 1950, Sasol is a global player in the energy and chemical industries.

The company’s work include converting coal into liquid fuels, crude oil refining, supply of pipeline gas, and manufacturing of chemicals.

Sasol is listed on both the Johannesburg and New York stock exchanges. About 75% of Sasol’s profits still come from South Africa.

In 2014, the company unveiled Mozambique’s first permanent large scale gas-to-power plant.

The project is a partnership between the Mozambican state power utility, Electridade de Mozambique (51%) and Sasol (49%).

In 2014, Sasol was mulling the construction of a gas-to-liquids plant in Louisiana, one of the biggest foreign investments in the state.


Shoprite Group of Companies is Africa’s largest food retailer.

Established in 1979, Shoprite currently operates 2,689 outlets in 15 countries across Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands.

The company whose headquarters are in Cape Town, South Africa, is a public company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange with secondary listings on both the Namibian and Zambian Stock Exchanges.

As of 2019, the Shoprite employed more than 146,000 people, of whom 23,500 worked outside South Africa

The company operates in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, Nigeria, Madagascar, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

On 19 April 2012, Shoprite became the first South African retailer to enter the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), opening doors of a new supermarket in Gombe, Kinshasa.

Sanlam Limited

Sanlam is a South African financial services group headquartered in Bellville, Capetown.

Established in 1918 as a life insurance company, Sanlam Group has developed into a diversified financial services business covering insurance, asset management, wealth management and investments services.

The company operates in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique, India, Malaysia and the UK.

It has business interests in the US, Australia, Burundi, Lesotho and the Philippines. It also has a stake in micro-insurance specialists, UK-based Micro-Ensure Holdings Limited, which has a footprint across Africa and India servicing more than 10 million enrolled clients.

The company also operates in Morocco, Angola, Algeria, Tunisia, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Old Mutual

Founded in 1845, Old Mutual Limited is a pan-African investment, savings, insurance, and banking group. It is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia and London Stock Exchanges.

The company operates in Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Malawi among other states.


Vodacom Group Limited is a South African mobile communications company providing voice, messagit, data and converged services to over 55 million customers.

Vodacom has grown its operations to include networks in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Lesotho.

It provides business services to customers in more than 32 African countries, including Nigeria, Zambia, Angola, Kenya, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Cameroon.

Vodacom which owned a 50/50 partnership with Telkom and multinational operator Vodafone, is the leading cellular network in South Africa with an estimated market share of 58% and more than 103 million customers across Africa.