Biggest Stock Markets in Africa

Biggest Stock Markets in Africa

Biggest Stock Markets in Africa

The stock market as we know is an intermediary between investors who have money to invest in shares/securities, and companies who need money, thus selling their shares. Stock markets in Africa are still in the infant stage but aggressively growing.

Therefore, the stock exchange is a marketplace that facilitates the buying and selling of securities.

Africa has seen an expansion in its stock exchanges, due to the rising opportunities on the continent. In this article, we will delve into stock markets in Africa, also touching the largest ones on the continent.

Introduction to Africa’s stock markets

Africa is home to about 24 stock exchanges including:

  1. Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) – South Africa
  2. Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) – Nigeria
  3. Egyptian Exchange (EGX) – Egypt
  4. Casablanca Stock Exchange (BVC) – Morocco
  5. Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) – Kenya
  6. Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) – Ghana
  7. Tunis Stock Exchange (TSE) – Tunisia
  8. Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) – Zimbabwe
  9. Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) – Uganda
  10. Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) – Botswana
  11. Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) – Tanzania
  12. Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM) – West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) member states
  13. Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) – Mauritius
  14. Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE) – Zambia
  15. Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) – Namibia
  16. Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) – Malawi
  17. Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE) – Rwanda
  18. Swaziland Stock Exchange (SSX) – Eswatini
  19. Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BVRM) – Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) member states
  20. Douala Stock Exchange (DSX) – Cameroon
  21. BRVM – Côte d’Ivoire
  22. Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières – Senegal
  23. Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières – Togo
  24. Mozambique Stock Exchange (BVM) – Mozambique

These markets have experienced growth, and now have a combined market capitalization of 1.6 trillion dollars, the size of the US Nasdaq.  The biggest markets across the continent include South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt however, the stock markets in Kenya, Ghana, and Morocco also hold weight.

Overview of the biggest stock markets in Africa

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)

The principal stock exchange of South Africa and was formed in 1887 by Benjamin Wollan during the first South African gold rush. The JSE is currently the largest stock exchange in Africa, with a market cap of about $1trillion

Following the first legislation covering financial markets in 1947, the JSE joined the World Federation of Exchanges in 1963 and upgraded to an electronic trading system in the early 1990s. The bourse was demutualised and listed on its exchange in 2005.

The JSE is made up of stocks that cut across 10 industries, 19 Super sectors, 41 Sectors and 114 Subsectors. However, key sectors include oil & gas, financial services, Healthcare, Industrials, Consumer services, Basic materials, Telecommunications, Utilities, and Consumer goods.

Regulatory environment: The JSE also acts as its regulator, and the front-line regulator of issuers and trading and clearing members through the Issuer Regulation and Market Regulation divisions.

Its regulatory authority is powered by section 8 of the Financial Markets Act, 19 of 2012.  The regulatory arm is tasked with overseeing trading across the JSE’s markets to identify market abuse, including insider trading and market manipulation. 

Major stocks listed on the JSE include

Naspers (NPN)A multinational internet and media group, with significant investments in technology companies such as Tencent Holdings.
Sasol (SOL)An integrated energy and chemical company, specializing in the production of fuels, chemicals, and other products.
Anglo American plc (AGL)A multinational mining company, with operations in various commodities including platinum, diamonds, copper, iron ore, and coal.
BHP Group plc (BHP)A global resources company, engaged in the exploration, development, and production of minerals, metals, and petroleum products.
MTN Group (MTN)A telecommunications company, operating in several African and Middle Eastern countries, providing mobile telecommunication services.
Standard Bank Group (SBK)One of Africa’s largest banking groups, offering a wide range of financial services including banking, insurance, and wealth management.
FirstRand Limited (FSR)A financial services group, providing banking, insurance, and investment products and services.
Absa Group Limited (ABG)Another major banking group, offering retail, business, corporate, and investment banking services.
AngloGold Ashanti Limited (ANG)A global gold mining company, with operations in several countries including South Africa, Ghana, Australia, and Colombia.
Woolworths Holdings Limited (WHL)A retail group, operating in South Africa and other African countries, offering clothing, food, beauty, and homeware products.

The Nigeria stock exchange

Nigerian Exchange (NGX), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX Group), is a leading listing and trading venue in Africa with a history dating back to 1960.  The NGX is licensed under the Investments and Securities Act (ISA) and is registered and regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Nigeria.

The Exchange is also a multi-asset exchange providing a home to the best of African enterprises listed on our Premium, Main, and Growth Boards; diverse fixed income securities; Exchange Traded Products (ETPs); Mutual and other investment funds.

The NGX is currently the second-largest stock market in Africa, with a market capitalization of about $ 41 billion.

Regulatory model: Rules and Regulations 2013, and the license issued to The Nigerian Stock Exchange (“The Exchange”) by the SEC empowers The Exchange to engage in registration, inspection, surveillance, enforcement and rule-making activities in respect of its dealing members and listed companies. The rules of The Exchange, however, need to be approved by the SEC before they can become operational.

Major stocks listed on the NGX include.

Dangote Cement Plc (DANGCEM)Dangote Cement is Africa’s largest cement producer and one of Nigeria’s most prominent companies. It manufactures and distributes cement across Africa, with operations in several countries.
MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTNN)MTN Nigeria is the largest telecommunications operator in Nigeria, providing mobile telephony and internet services to millions of subscribers across the country.
Nigerian Breweries Plc (NB)Nigerian Breweries is the pioneer and largest brewery in Nigeria. It produces and markets a wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including beer, malt drinks, and soft drinks.
Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO)Guaranty Trust Holding Company is a leading financial institution in Nigeria, providing banking, asset management, and other financial services to individuals and businesses.
Access Bank Plc (ACCESS)Access Bank is one of Nigeria’s largest banks, offering a comprehensive range of banking products and services to retail, corporate, and institutional customers.
Zenith Bank Plc (ZENITHBANK)Zenith Bank is a major player in Nigeria’s banking sector, known for its strong financial performance and innovative banking solutions.
Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc (STANBIC)Stanbic IBTC Holdings is a diversified financial services group in Nigeria, offering banking, asset management, and insurance services to its customers.
Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc (SEPLAT)Seplat is an indigenous Nigerian oil and gas company engaged in the exploration, development, and production of oil and gas resources in Nigeria.
Nestle Nigeria Plc (NESTLE)Nestle Nigeria is a subsidiary of the global food and beverage giant Nestle. It manufactures and markets a wide range of food and beverage products in Nigeria.
Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc (FLOURMILL)Flour Mills of Nigeria is one of the largest flour milling companies in Nigeria, producing and distributing a variety of food products including flour, pasta, and noodles.

The Egyptian Stock Exchange

The history of the Egyptian Stock Exchange, now known as the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), dates back to the late 19th century with the establishment of the Alexandria Stock Exchange in 1883.

It was the first stock exchange in Egypt and primarily focused on futures mercantile. Under the reign of Khedive Abbas II in 1899, the Stock Exchange relocated to a new building on Muhammad Ali Street in Alexandria, signifying its growing importance in Egypt’s economic landscape.

In 1902, the Brokers’ Syndicate was established to regulate stock market transactions, laying down the groundwork for organized trading activities. Subsequently, the Cairo Stock Exchange was established in 1903 under the Egyptian Company for Banking and Stock Exchange, a limited liability company formed by investors and brokers.

The Cairo Stock Exchange initially operated from the old building of the Ottoman Bank on Maghrabi Street. The Brokers’ Syndicate played a crucial role in establishing regulations for listing shares, controlling trading transactions, and resolving disputes between brokers and the public.

By 1908, Cairo boasted a dedicated trading platform for investors to monitor market activity, situated in front of the French Consulate. The first legislation governing stock exchanges was enacted on November 8, 1909. In 1928, the Cairo Stock Exchange moved to its current headquarters on Al-Sharifin Street, funded by a company established by brokers after the expiration of the old company’s tenure.

Over the years, the legislative framework for the stock exchange continued to evolve to accommodate its development and changing dynamics. Various decrees and laws were enacted, including Law No. (326) of 1953 regarding the trading of securities and Law No. (161) of 1957 establishing general regulations for stock exchanges.

Subsequent laws and decrees, such as Law No. (95) of 1992 and Law No. (123) of 2008, further refined the regulatory framework.

In 2008, a significant milestone was reached when Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchanges merged under one name, officially becoming the Egyptian Exchange (EGX).

This consolidation aimed to streamline operations and enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of Egypt’s capital markets.

The process was formalized by Presidential Decree No. (191) of 2009, solidifying EGX’s position as a key player in Egypt’s financial sector and a vital hub for domestic and international investors alike.

The Egyptian Stock Exchange currently has a market cap of about $38 billion, and it is made up of stocks that cut across.

Regulatory Model: The Egyptian Exchange has a basic level of regulatory authority when it comes to listing and market surveillance. However, the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority is the overall regulator for the stock exchange.

Major stocks listed on the EGX include:

Commercial International Bank (CIB)One of the leading private-sector banks in Egypt, offering a wide range of banking and financial services to individuals, businesses, and institutions.
Telecom EgyptThe largest provider of fixed-line telecommunications services in Egypt, offering voice, data, and internet services to residential and business customers.
Egyptian Kuwaiti Holding (EKHO)A diversified investment holding company with interests in various sectors including real estate, construction, manufacturing, and financial services.
Ezz Steel (ESRS)One of the largest steel producers in Egypt, manufacturing and distributing a wide range of steel products for construction and industrial applications.
Talaat Moustafa Group (TMGH)A leading real estate development company in Egypt, engaged in the construction of residential, commercial, and mixed-use properties.
Egyptian Financial Group-Hermes Holding (EFG Hermes)A leading investment bank and financial services company in Egypt, providing asset management, securities brokerage, investment banking, and research services.
Palm Hills Developments (PHDC)A real estate development company specializing in residential and commercial projects, including gated communities, luxury villas, and mixed-use developments.
Eastern Company (EAST)A state-owned company engaged in the manufacture and distribution of tobacco and related products in Egypt and internationally.
Orascom Construction (ORAS)A leading engineering and construction company in Egypt, specializing in infrastructure, industrial, and commercial projects.
Egyptian Iron & Steel (IRON)A major producer of iron and steel products in Egypt, supplying raw materials to various industries including construction, automotive, and manufacturing.

The Casablanca Stock Exchange

Established in 1929, the Casablanca Stock Exchange began its journey under the name “Office de Compensation des Valeurs Mobilières” (Office for Clearing of Transferable Securities).

However, as the significance of the securities market grew and foreign exchange controls were introduced, authorities recognized the need to streamline and regulate its operations.

Despite a rising interest among domestic investors, the exchange faced organizational challenges that limited its appeal. In response, reforms were implemented in 1967, providing Morocco’s financial markets with a structured legal and technical framework.

In 1986, Morocco initiated a Structural Adjustment Programme, culminating in its completion a decade later. This program enabled the country to fortify its economic fundamentals, effectively managing its high debt levels and inflation.

Building on this momentum, in 1993, further market reforms were introduced to complement earlier measures.

Among these reforms was the establishment of the Société de Bourse des Valeurs de Casablanca (SBVC), a private entity tasked with managing the Casablanca Stock Exchange.

The SBVC’s share capital is jointly owned by authorized brokerage firms, underscoring a collaborative approach to enhancing the exchange’s operations and regulatory environment.

The Casablanca Stock Exchange currently has a market capitalization of about $76million. The exchange is made up of stocks that cut across

Regulatory environment: As opposed to other stock markets in Africa that are self-regulated, the Casablanca Stock Exchange is regulated by The Conseil Deontologique des Valeurs Mobilières (CDVM). Additionally, most regulatory laws adhered to in Morocco have come by royal decree. As a result, the Casablanca Stock Exchange has limited regulatory power.

 Major stocks listed on the CGX include:

  • Attijariwafa Bank (ATW)
  • Maroc Telecom (IAM)
  • Banque Centrale Populaire (BCP)
  • BMCE Bank (BMC)
  • Addoha Group (ADD)
  • LafargeHolcim Maroc (LHM)
  • Managem (MNG)
  • Société Nationale d’Investissement (SNI)
  • Ciments du Maroc (CIM)
  • Inwi (INI)

The Nairobi Stock Exchange

From its humble beginnings in the 1920s, the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) emerged as a vital financial institution in Kenya’s economic landscape. Initially, trading occurred through informal agreements without a designated trading floor.

However, formal recognition from the London Stock Exchange in 1953 marked a turning point, leading to the NSE’s registration under the Societies Act in 1954.

Over the following decades, the NSE played a pivotal role in regional economic integration, operating as a hub for trading shares and public sector securities from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda within the East African Community.

However, political shifts and the eventual collapse of the East African Community in 1975 disrupted market dynamics, leading to significant changes within the exchange.

The 1990s witnessed a transformative period for the NSE, characterized by regulatory enhancements and market growth. The establishment of the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) in 1990 brought about increased oversight and professionalism within the market.

Transitioning from telephone-based negotiations to a floor-based open outcry system in 1991, the NSE embraced modern trading practices. Regulatory reforms in subsequent years further strengthened the market’s integrity and accessibility.

By the mid-1990s, with the adoption of computerized trading and settlement systems, the NSE experienced significant expansion, licensing additional stockbrokers, and achieving milestones in market performance.

The Nairobi stock exchange currently has a market capitalization of about $22 million.

Regulatory environment: The exchange adopts a similar model to Nigeria, in that it is self-regulatory, but still governed by the Capital Market Authority (CAMA)

Major stocks listed on the NASE include:

  • Safaricom PLC (SCOM)
  • Equity Group Holdings PLC (EQTY)
  • East African Breweries Limited (EABL)
  • KCB Group PLC (KCB)
  • Cooperative Bank of Kenya Limited (COOP)
  • Absa Bank Kenya PLC (ABSA)
  • Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Limited (SCBK)
  • Bamburi Cement Limited (BAMB)
  • British American Tobacco Kenya PLC (BAT)
  • KenGen (Kenya Electricity Generating Company)
  • Limited (KEGN)

What are the growth opportunities for African stock markets?

African stock markets are poised to expand rapidly in the coming years. This thesis is driven by the increasing economic stability in the region and the growing middle class in the region.

Thus, we expect to see a rise in demand across sectors, and expansion of these industries, ultimately prompting attention from investors, both far and wide.

What is the impact of political and economic factors on African Stock Markets?

Political stability is very important for investor confidence thus political unrest. Coups and civil conflicts can lead to extreme volatility. On the other hand, stable political environments can attract investment and promote market growth.

Similarly, economic growth is a key driver of stock market performance. Factors such as GDP growth, inflation rates, employment levels, and consumer spending can impact the profitability and outlook of companies listed on the stock exchange.  These 2 factors are sort of intertwined.

A stable political regime and a sound government will lead to the formulation of great economic policies, thereby driving growth and confidence in the Stock Market.

Challenges and Risks to African Stock Markets

Investing in Africa offers many opportunities, but risks also exist. Here are some of the challenges associated with investing in African Stock Markets

  • Political Instability: Many African countries experience political instability, including coups, civil unrest, and changes in government. Political turmoil can lead to market volatility, uncertainty, and regulatory changes that impact investor confidence. A good example is the coup we saw in Burkina Faso, or the dwindling popularity of the current Government in South Africa, which has created investor apathy in its Stock Market, currently making it one of the worst performing.
  • Economic Volatility: African economies often face high levels of volatility due to factors such as commodity price fluctuations, currency devaluations, inflation, and fiscal deficits. Economic instability can affect company earnings and stock market performance.
  • Liquidity Constraints: African stock markets tend to have lower liquidity than developed markets, meaning there may be fewer buyers and sellers for certain stocks. This can result in wider bid-ask spreads and difficulty executing large trades without significantly impacting prices.
  • Currency Risk: Investing in African markets exposes investors to currency risk, as exchange rate fluctuations can impact the returns of foreign investors. Currency depreciation can erode investment returns when repatriated to other currencies. investors.

Currency depreciation can erode investment returns when repatriated to other currencies. A good example is the Nigerian Stock Market which has a higher ratio of domestic investors to foreign portfolio investors, due to the extreme volatility of its currency.


African stock markets offer growth opportunities and are poised to further expand, due to their increasing population and young demographic makeup.

As such, interest from foreign investors has risen over time, and this is only going to stay put, as the continent’s opportunities materialize. That is not to say that the Markets are without risks or challenges.

Even though we have seen a more stable political climate, political and economic risks remain high relative to developed countries and investors will always factor this in when valuing the markets.

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