• Friday, May 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Seven tech firms grow fastest on FT ranking

Nigerian fastest-growing-firms-

Seven Nigerian tech firms defied economic woes to become some of the fastest-growing companies in Africa, according to the Financial Times’ ‘Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies 2024’ list. These businesses weathered pandemic-induced turmoil to grow their revenues to $979.18 million.

In its third year, the ranking considered how companies responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and the continent’s economic problems. FT partnered with global research company, Statista and BusinessDay for the research. Companies submitted revenue figures verified by senior leadership. The ranking, however, according to FT doesn’t cover all companies on the continent.

The ranking is based on compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue between 2019 and 2022. It includes 125 companies across Africa. Among the high-performing Nigerian firms (25 in total) are tech firms – Afex, Moniepoint, Paga, Omniretail, ThriveAgric, Seamlesshr, and FairMoney. These companies collectively employ about 3,386 people.

Despite a challenging economic climate in Nigeria, including a recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and slumping oil prices, these startups achieved significant revenue growth.

Afex grew its revenue to $415.54 million from $8.38 million; Omniretail (ranked as the fastest-growing company in Africa for 2024) grew its revenue to $139.88 million from $0.25 million; Moniepoint grew to $148.66 million from $1.84 million; Fairmoney grew to $142.93 million from $9.25 million; ThriveAgric (which almost collapses recently) grew to 73.26 million from $8.1 million; SeamlessHr grew to $2.62 million from $0.38 million, and Paga grew to $56.29 million from $19.59 million.

According to the World Bank, the early days of the COVID-19 crisis ushered in Nigeria’s deepest recession since the 1980s. Also, the price of oil – which represents more than 80 percent of the country’s exports and more than 50 percent of government revenues – tumbled more than 60 percent between February and May 2020.

The pandemic pushed over five million more Nigerians into poverty by 2022, the Washington-based bank disclosed.

Abebe Selassie, the head of the International Monetary Fund’s Africa department, noted, “I worry about the effect that the pandemic has had on poverty, particularly in the most fragile countries.”

“Economic growth in Africa, overall, in 2023 was 3.2 percent, according to the IMF — lower than in Asia, which grew at nearly 5 percent. And, given the African continent’s fast population expansion, this underperformance is even starker in per capita terms. Rather than closing the gap with wealthier regions, on aggregate, Africa is falling further behind,” FT said.

Nigeria, which used to be Africa’s largest economy in 2022, fell to fourth place this year after a series of currency devaluations, an IMF forecast recently showed. Despite this, the country had the second-highest number of companies on the ranking.

“Nigeria, one of the continent’s three biggest economies, spent 2023 in economic crisis as prices spiralled upwards and the naira went into freefall,” FT said.

Nigerian startups are adapting to the economic slowdown by optimising operations and focusing on customer needs. Startup funding to Africa fell by 39 percent to $2.9 billion in 2023, making revenue generation even more crucial.

Tosin Eniolorunda, group chief executive officer at Moniepoint Inc., said, “Achieving rapid growth and scale is a fantastic achievement; maintaining that year-on-year is even better… 2023 was a pivotal year for Moniepoint. We entered the personal banking market for the first time and made progress in our goal to enter new African markets.”

Andrew Mori, CEO of Deimos (a South African firm on FT’s list), noted that the revenue growth reflects an uptake in technological solutions on the continent.

“Our growth is reflective of how Africa is progressing technologically, and we will continue to build cloud adoption approaches and strategies with battle-tested blueprints for the African market,” Mori said.