South Africa boasts some of the continent’s most successful IT and telecommunications companies, which include Vodacom, MTN, and Altron.
Vodacom and MTN were founded in the early nineties and launched their first commercial mobile phone offerings in 1994.
Since then, these two companies grew into globally competitive mobile operators with operations in numerous countries.
Many other South African tech companies have also successfully grown their operations to other parts of the world.
Altron, which was founded in 1965 by Bill Venter, now has a direct presence in South Africa, rest of Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia.
Cartrack, which started operations in 2004 with a stolen vehicle tracking solution, now offers multiple products across 23 countries in five continents.
Datatec, which was established in 1986, has operations in more than 50 countries across North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle-East, and Asia-Pacific.
Even smaller South Africa tech companies like Alaris compete effectively against far larger international companies because of their superior quality products.
It is clear that South Africa has a thriving ICT industry which punches far above its weight considering the country’s small economy and geographical location.
Biggest tech companies in South Africa
The image below shows the market cap of JSE-listed South African technology companies, with telecoms companies dwarfing the rest.
For this comparison, only JSE-listed IT and telecoms companies with their main operations in South Africa were considered.
Large unlisted companies like Rain and Afrihost were not included, while Naspers, which is essentially an Amsterdam-based company, was also not included.
It is interesting to note that Telkom used to own 50% of Vodacom, but decided to sell this stake in 2008.
This is widely seen as one of Telkom biggest blunders, which is clearly illustrated in the current market caps of the two companies.