MTN was also named as Africa’s top brand by the Brand Finance South Africa’s Top 50 awards, which aims to recognise top brands and their contribution to a country’s GDP.
MTN has had a competitive continental dominance in the telecommunications industry, with a presence in Benin, Kenya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Ghana and Liberia, among others.
(READ MORE: MTN makes CITI’s World Champions list)
“I think healthy competition between African countries is actually a good thing. In a way it inspires us to all become better at what we do, and that also creates more opportunities for us in terms of business, of more interaction,” Petrus de Kock, research manager from Brand South Africa, told CNBC Africa.
“As we have the expansion into the African market, that creates more space for our companies to interact with each other.”
Markets such as Kenya’s, which used to have a strong competitive edge against South Africa particularly in the tourism arena, are an indication of the long-standing relationship of competition between countries. De Kock added that while competition was instrumental to the continent, perception was equally crucial.
“This year [Brand South Africa is] focusing on Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria in doing more concrete [and] on the ground research to identify the perceptual barriers. It’s the [strange ways in which] we think about each other that actually prevent us from getting into more substantive conversations, but to [also] create real relationships,” he explained.
The creation of regional relationships through expansion of intra-Africa trade has however been a tough boat to sail for African countries.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, from 2007 to 2011, the average share of intra-African exports in total merchandise exports in the continent was only 11 per cent, compared with 50 per cent in developing Asia, 21 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 70 per cent in Europe.
Organisations such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, African Union and the East African Community are however looked at as beacons to spearhead intra-Africa trade.
“The interesting thing that we are learning is [that] South Africa is quite a sophisticated market, with so many different offerings, that we need to use those kinds of instruments,” said de Kock.
“At the same time, we also need to create a much more nuanced communications strategy with our African peers. Sometimes we also need to do a bit of a reality check in terms of how we are seeing. What are those issues that prevent us from creating better relationships and more interaction?”