The largest North African companies in our 2021 ranking of Africa's Top 250 Companies have seen their market capitalization increase by billions of dollars in the last year.

For more than 15 years, African Business has been running an annual ranking of Africa's top 250 companies, taking the top listed companies from Africa's national and regional stock exchanges. In this article we focus on the top 20 companies from North African countries that appeared in the ranking in 2021.

North Africa's largest listed companies enjoyed strong gains compared to 2020. The top three are based in Morocco and listed on the dynamic Casablanca Stock Exchange, where the MASI Free Float index rose by 22% and the Dirham currency gained 11% against the dollar.

Maroc Telecom reflected gains as its market capitalization increased from $ 11 billion in 2020 to $ 13.5 billion in March 2021, remaining at # 8 position, even as national GDP contracted 5.9% during the calendar year , with economic damage from reduced tourism and drought in some areas, as well as sudden slowdowns in its main export markets in Europe.

Exports of auto parts and phosphates began to rebound again in the third quarter of 2020 and the economy is forecast to recover strongly with growth of 4.5% in 2021 and 3.2% in 2022. Address high unemployment, especially among young people, remains a challenge. 

Other Moroccan top performers were Attijariwafa Bank (# 15 in the main table) and Banque Centrale Populaire (up to # 29 from # 28 in 2020 despite a strong gain in market value).

Covid-19 had a severe impact on Egypt, but the country managed to maintain economic growth at 3.6% in 2020 and the momentum will continue with a projected growth of 3% in 2021 and 4.9% in 2022. According to the AfDB, “Egypt's economic growth has been strong and resilient since the economic reforms begun in 2016.”

The Bank of Egypt cut the overnight lending rate in March, September and November 2020 to close at 9.25% in a successful attempt to stimulate the economy. Tourism is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels for some years. 

The main Egyptian company on the list is Commercial International Bank , which fell from 18th place in 2020 to 30th place as its market capitalization retreated a bit. The Egyptian pound remained stable against the dollar.

Tourism-dependent Tunisia was hit, with an overall economic contraction of 8.8% and relatively anemic growth of 2% in 2021. Covid-19 had a strong impact and there were sharp falls in investment and exports. However, the top Tunisian company on the list, Société de Fabrication des Boissons de Tunisie (SFBT), gained dramatically in market capitalization and rose from 80th to 67th place. 

Libya, which is not on the list of top companies because it does not have a stock exchange, was hardest hit by Covid-19, the collapse in oil prices and conflict, causing a 60% drop in GDP, although 131% growth is expected this year. Overall, the region contracted by 1.1% in 2020 and a good recovery of 4% in 2020 and 6% in 2022 is expected.

North Africa performs well in terms of diversified economies, and this is reflected in the largest companies, which include telecommunications companies, banks, cement companies, energy and consumer companies and private utilities.

Read our full survey of Africa's top 250 companies in 2021.

© Data provided by Emerging Markets Investment Management Limited and also internal research. Data as of 03/31/2021. The data refers only to listed companies.

Source: Africa Business