Africa's highest paid sports stars
Home country: Cameroon
Club: FC Anzhi Makhachkala
One of the most decorated African players in the history of the game, Samuel Eto’o sent shockwaves through the football world in August when he left Inter Milan to join Russian side FC Anzhi Makhachkala to become the highest paid player on the planet.
Reportedly earning a salary of €20.5 million per season, the Cameroon captain signed a three-year deal for a fee said to total $36 million plus performance-related add-ons. Counting Puma and Ford among his sponsors, (Eto’o drives the iconic Ford GT) Eto’o could rake in much more through personal promotions and advertising deals.
Experts have seriously questioned the 30-year-old’s move to Russia. After all, the four-time African Player of the Year netted his highest number of goals (37 in all competitions) just last season at the San Siro.
But a glance at his incredible record shows that Eto’o does not have much more to achieve at club level bar a stint in the English Premier League. After beginning his career at Real Madrid (but only making three appearances for the club), he moved Mallorca and on to Barcelona where he scored 130 goals in 200 appearances. Lifting the UEFA Champions League twice with the Spanish giants, he went on to clinch the prestigious club trophy again in with Inter in 2009-10.
Home country: South Africa
Club: Cape Cobras/Deccan Chargers (IPL 2011)
Officially ranked the world’s best Test bowler, 28-year old Steyn was the most expensive South African cricketer at the 2011 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction. Deccan Chargers snapped Steyn up for a cool $1.2 million; while back home he plies his trade for Cape Cobras, counting sports giant Slazenger among his sponsors.
Despite a humble beginning in the Test arena, Steyn perfected his action and announced himself on the world stage when South Africa hosted New Zealand in 2007-08, taking 10 wickets in the first Test match. Whenever Steyn bowled, wickets seemed to fall and in 2008 he became the fastest South African to reach 100 Test wickets. His remarkable figures at the end of 2008 - 86 wickets in 14 matches at an average of just over 18 - saw him crowned the ICC (International Cricket Council) Player of the Year.
Home country: South Africa
Club: Blue Bulls/Bulls
Despite rumours of a possible retirement at the end of this year’s Rugby World Cup, 34-year-old Matfield is still a force on the international stage. The lock won the IRB (International Rugby Board) Player of the Tournament accolade when the Springboks lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in the 2007 tournament.
Matfield plays for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and the Bulls in the Super 14, having captained both sides along with his country. His biggest money move came in January 2008, when he signed for French division two outfit Toulon on a six month contract for a rumoured R4 million. One of several high profile players signed by the club, including former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga, Pietersburg-born Matfield helped them to clinch promotion before returning to South Africa.
Home country: South Africa
The former world number one has enjoyed sustained success in his 22-year professional career so far. Els, from Johannesburg, is the leading career money winner on the European tour, amassing €26,088,556 in prize money and topped the European Order of Merit (money list) in 2003 and 2004.
Known as ‘The Big Easy’ due to his height (6 feet, 3 inches) and effortless swing, major highlights in Els’ career include US Open wins in 1994 and 1997 and the Open in 2002, while he has won the World Match Play Championship in Spain a record seven times. His excellent CV however could have been even more impressive considering he has finished runner-up in six majors, and second to Tiger Woods more often than any other golfer.
Off the course, 41-year-old Els has his own golf course design business and an esteemed wine-making business. He also campaigns for his Els for Autism Foundation, which was established in 2009 after his son Ben was diagnosed with the condition.
Billionaire Kumar Birla Champions Regional Supply Chains
As the head of the Aditya Birla Group, a US$46bn firm that operates in 36 countries, Kumar Mangalam Birla is no stranger to splashy strategic moves. Yet his recent announcement that he no longer wants to acquire globally distributed supply chains stood out. While many companies have struggled to cope with shipping backlogs, his firm has chosen to pivot and focus on regional networks. Said Birla: ‘We wouldn’t look at a company or a business where you source in one corner of the world and sell in another’.
He cited protectionism, the pandemic, and the limited movement of products and people around the world as ABG’s primary causes of lost profits. And they aren’t alone. Over the past year, 900 of the U.S. and Europe’s biggest IT, defence, and financial services firms have lost an average of US$184mn apiece.
An Era of Global Disruption
Over the past few decades, low shipping rates and rapid delivery times have lulled multinational firms into a false sense of security. In the early 2000s, companies chose to take on significant global supply chain risks in exchange for increased profits. First, it made sense to manufacture higher-value goods, such as electronics, in low-cost regions throughout Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. Second, first-tier suppliers started to outsource the manufacturing of specific components to second-, third-, and even fourth-tiers—leaving supply chains with extremely limited visibility.
So when COVID-19 disruptions struck certain regions, companies were caught unprepared. Usually, these events come few and far between. But over the past ten years, we’ve seen a number of ‘black swan’ events that have thrown the supply chain industry into chaos. Here’s a quick history of the most significant events in recent years, thanks to the MIT Sloan Management Review:
- 2010. China creates export quotas for rare earth elements.
- 2011. The Tōhoku Earthquake hits East Japan; flooding sweeps throughout Thailand.
- 2016-present. Trade wars between the U.S. and China hurt suppliers.
- 2020-present. COVID-19 pandemic shuts down international shipping ports.
Now, Kumar Birla is one of many who want to re-evaluate how we run our supply chains. Though his company has acquired 40+ companies in the last quarter decade, Birla intends to build up local hubs rather than expand operations.
Why Pursue Regionalisation?
Combine Chinese economic dominance, global supply chain vulnerabilities, and major government policy shifts around the world, and you have a storm brewing on the horizon for big multinational firms. As Brookings noted, ‘the biggest risk for trading opportunities in the developing world is growing protectionism in more advanced economies, often dressed up as national security protection’.
Altogether, from the U.S. to the European Union, governments are trying to protect their domestic supply chains, secure adequate stockpiles of materials, and build world-class local networks. Consider Biden’s recent executive order, which seeks to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to home soil, or Japan’s bid to open more memory chip fabrication factories near Tokyo. The Aditya Birla Group intends to react in kind. Said Birla: ‘We’re looking at regionalism as a very big theme’.
Will Others Follow Suit?
In the post-pandemic economy, global businesses must decide whether to expand or contract. On one hand, the Alibaba Group’s Cainiao Smart Logistics Network recently launched a direct flight between Hong Kong, China, and Lagos, Nigeria. On the other, the Japanese government is desperate to make its chip manufacturing domestic. Indeed, as two supply chain strategies diverge in a post-pandemic world, the one businesses take may make all the difference.
Yet Birla is confident that regionalisation is the right call. According to his words at the Qatar Economic Forum, even necessary cross-border transactions should be smaller in scope. And as the Bloomberg Billionaires Index now lists his net wealth at US$10.4bn, up 52% from 2020, he may have the cash to test his theories out. ‘Regional hubs, regional presence, regional employment, catering to regional demand’, he stated. ‘We’re a global company rooted in local economics’.