JOHANNESBURG: MTN, the mobile telecoms operator, has been named the most valuable African brand in a list dominated at the top by South African brands.

The Brand Africa 100 ranking, compiled by African Business Magazine, ranked brands using a mix of performance and consumer admiration scores. It defines an African brand, according to How We Made It In Africa, as a "multi-national brand developed in Africa, by Africans, with a secondary or primary listing in Africa, serving customers primarily in Africa, a growing international recognition and/or footprint, and [which] contributes to Africa's economic growth and global image and reputation".

MTN, with an African brand value of 4,655, was far ahead of its nearest rivals in the rankings, three South African retailers. Woolworths (1,294), Shoprite (1,115) and Pick n Pay (1,035) all had a valuation between one quarter and one fifth of MTN.

Two other South African brands also made the top ten. Castle, the brewer, was in sixth place with an African brand value of 272, and Tiger Brands, a diversified food business, was in tenth, on 201.

Nigerian brands took three spots in the top ten, including telecoms operator Globacom in fifth, with an African brand value of 655, manufacturing conglomerate Dangote in eighth on 216, and the Guaranty Trust Bank in ninth on 201.

The sole Kenyan brand to appear in the leading group was another brewer, Tusker, which ranked seventh on 222.

African Business expressed some surprise at the presence of Dangote and Globacom on the list but said that "both brands have managed to win the hearts of the communities in which they operate".

Separately, Honore Gasa of South African brand strategist Yellowwood, told the Financial Mail that African brands needed to focus on helping their customers and cited as an example MTN's launch of pay-as-you-go airtime when mobile phones had only been available through long-term contracts.

And David Blyth, Yellowood MD argued that African companies could outperform their competitors by being "closer to the ground, more relevant and more innovative".

Data sourced from How We Made It In Africa, Financial Mail; additional content by Warc staff