2021: Dangote, MTN Still The Most Admired African Brand

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During a year defined by the COVID-19 pandemic which brought the world to a halt, as markets have to adapt to a new reality, African brands retained their 13% share of the top 100 most admired brands in Africa.

While WHO and MTN top list of brands recognized as most helpful during the Covid-19 Pandemic, Dangote Group retained its status as the most admired African brands recalled spontaneously and when prompted, respectively. Nigeria’s GT Bank retains its position as the most admired financial services brand in Africa.

African brands retain 13% share of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa Today Brand Africa unveiled the 11th annual Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands 2021 rankings of the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa in a virtual event hosted by Brand Africa, Publics Africa and Uganda Investment Authority.

2021: Dangote, MTN Still The Most Admired African Brand-Brand Spur Nigeria
2021: Dangote, MTN Still The Most Admired African Brand-Brand Spur Nigeria

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Despite an increase in sample size and countries, the Top 10 Most Admired Brands show little change from previous years. MTN, consistently the only African brand among the Top 10 brands overall, dropped to #11 for the first time in a decade. American sports and fitness giant, Nike retains the top spot for the fourth year in a row. MTN and Dangote retain their status as the most admired African brands recalled spontaneously and when prompted, respectively.

With Covid limiting entertainment options beyond the house, while many businesses struggled, many digital businesses such as streaming services thrived. This undoubtedly explains South Africa’s DSTV, knocking off BBC from its long held position as the most admired media brand in Africa.   Top 100 brands in Africa continue to be dominated by European brands which have held their share at 41% (-1), North America (+1), Asia (-), and Africa retaining its 13% share of the most admired brands in the world.

Similarly, the leading African countries that dominate the rankings largely retained their positions with Nigeria (-1) and South Africa (-) with 5 brands each, Ethiopia (+1) and Kenya (-) accounting for the13 brands among the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa.  Computer/electronics (17%)(+3), consumer (non-cyclical) (14%)(+6), luxury (8%)(-2), auto manufacturers (13%)(+3), and apparel (8%)(-) make up the top 5 categories.

Rhona Arinaitwe representing MTN Uganda with Amos Masaba Wekesa, founder and managing partner of Great Lakes Safaris. MTN is the Most Admired African Brand in Ugandan-Brand Spur Nigeria
Rhona Arinaitwe representing MTN Uganda with Amos Masaba Wekesa, founder and managing partner of Great Lakes Safaris. MTN is the Most Admired African Brand in Ugandan-Brand Spur Nigeria

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The shifts in the rankings this year’s rankings are bound by a common theme – the Covid-19 pandemic. Given its impact on lives and livelihoods, this year Brand Africa survey sought to understand which brands were perceived to have been helpful during the pandemic. Predictably, given its global omini-presence during the pandemic, the WHO emerged as the #1 most admired global brand perceived to have been most helpful during the pandemic.

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Thebe Ikalafeng and Maki Mopai, Dangote, Most Admired Africa Brand-Brand Spur Nigeria
Thebe Ikalafeng and Maki Mopai, Dangote, Most Admired Africa Brand-Brand Spur Nigeria

MTN, which donated over 7 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to 9 African countries, is the leading African and private sector brand at #2, in private sector list where all multinational mobile operators in Africa – Vodafone Group (#3), Orange (#4), Airtel (#6) – and media brands, Facebook (#10) and DSTV (#24) made the list of the Top 25.

They were instrumental in communicating about the pandemic and in keeping people connected. Underlying the role the private sector is playing during pandemic, the list is 80% dominated by diverse private sector brands and 20% governmental and non-governmental agencies such as the Red Cross (#5), multi-lateral agencies such as WHO and Unicef (#7), government agencies such as the Center for Disease Control (#16) and USAID (#19). Unsurprisingly, the leading pharmaceutical groups, Johnson & Johnson (#12) and Astrazeneca (#25) rounded off the list.

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Nigeria’s Dangote (#8) is only industrial brand in the list. Ethiopian Airways, the only African airline to have seemingly thrived during the pandemic, the first of the continent’s airlines to resume service and converting passenger planes into cargo planes to transport critical PPE’s around the world and the continent during the pandemic’s depths, spectacularly broke into the Top 100 most admired brands in Africa, the only airline, at #51.

With loconomies a central pivot during the pandemic, upstart South African brand, Bathu, muscled its way into a Top 25 at #10 among the most admired African brands list dominated by the stalwart brands, Dangote (#1), MTN (#2) and DSTV (#3), which retained their top respective rankings. Out of all the 28 countries surveyed, only 5 (18%) have an African as the #1 most admired brand in the country.

Kuria Waithaka (CLO, NSE), Thebe Ikalafeng (Chairman and Founder, Brand Africa), Patricia Githua (Geopoll), Geoffrey Odundo (CEO, NSE), sounding Africa's call for business-Brand Spur Nigeria
Kuria Waithaka (CLO, NSE), Thebe Ikalafeng (Chairman and Founder, Brand Africa), Patricia Githua (Geopoll), Geoffrey Odundo (CEO, NSE), sounding Africa’s call for business-Brand Spur Nigeria

Now in its 11th year, every year on or around Africa Day, 25 May, Brand Africa releases the results of the survey on the most admired brands in Africa.

The announcement of the pan-African list, kicks of marathon series of announcements for the day, which started with morning with a virtual event at 05h45 GMT in Uganda with the most Africa-wide, East African and Uganda’s most admired brands; which will be followed by the announcement of the most admired brands in Southern Africa, featuring Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia, then West African and Nigeria; then North African Morocco, and will close with a live announcement of the Francophone Africa and Ivory Coast list hosted by Opinion & Public at 18h00 GMT at Royal Work Club, Le Plateau in Abjidjan, Ivory Coast.

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