South Africa has the second largest economy in Africa behind Nigeria. It’s also home to Cape Town which is an up-and-coming digital nomad destination with a diverse ex-pat community. With great weather and plenty of tourist attractions, South Africa might have caught your attention as a potential place to work.
If you live in South Africa or are thinking of working in one of its coastal cities, you’ll want to know what the biggest companies (local and international) are. We’ve gathered some data from around the web to determine which are the top companies in South Africa. First, we’ll look at top companies by shareholder returns (for investors) and then look at top companies by market cap.
Top companies by shareholder returns
The definition of a ‘top company’ is going to differ between the jobseeker, the investor, and the journalist. A jobseek might value public opinion, work culture and the product that a company represents while the investor is concerned with the numbers, and the journalist with ethics. The great thing about numbers is that they don’t lie and don’t have an opinion therefore, they are the best indicator of how successful a company is.
The Sunday Times put together a list of the top 100 companies in South Africa based on shareholder returns. Share price performance is generally a sound indicator of how well a company is doing. As a jobseeker, you can also have the peace of mind knowing these companies are in good health and are stable long term options for employment. Healthy companies also pay employees more and attract better talent. Let’s take a look at the top 20 companies and then discuss some patterns.
South Africa has a hugely profitable mining industry. You can probably tell that after reading this list which features very few companies that are not mining companies. Mining is 8% of South Africa’s GDP and the sector has seen its revenue double in the last five years. In 2022, the total mining revenue was 747 billion South African rand.
By shareholder returns, mining companies are clearly at the top — but what does this mean for jobseekers? Well, the mining sector currently employs roughly half a million people, and that’s estimated to grow in the coming years. So if you work in energy or engineering, there are plenty of opportunities here. Although, if you work in tech, online, or remote, these are not the companies for you.
Top companies by market cap
Another way we can identify top companies is by market cap — how much a company is worth based on stock price. This identifies the biggest and most valuable companies in a country or city. So put together a list of the top 20 companies in South Africa by market cap (most recent data). There’s a lot more industry variation in this table compared with the last table.
Number one on the list is Naspers, which is an internet and tech investment group, and a great option for tech professionals as they hire a lot of software engineers and developers. At second place, there’s FirstRand which is a financial group, they operate in banking, private investment, and insurance. There are many opportunities in data and IT. At number three, we’ve got another mining company, Gold Fields, they are present on both of these top lists.
The top companies, while profitable and growing, might not be the right choice for your skillset. If you’re a digital specialist, luckily, South Africa has a lot to offer. You might not receive the most competitive salary but there are plenty of job opportunities (remote and in-person). Good luck with your job search ✌️