10 striking numbers from Apple's $53.4bn profits: It could build 8 light rails in every nation in Africa, and more

If you hadn't paid attention to Apple's numbers before, this fresh and fascinating take on the figures will bring it to life.

THIS week Apple Corporation cemented its status as arguably the most valuable company in history.

The technology company, led by CEO Tim Cook, posted an impressive set of financial results for its fiscal year ending September. Apple posted a mouthwatering $53.4 billion annual profit, surpassing oil giant Exxon Mobil’s previous record annual profit of $45.2 billion posted in 2008, as the largest ever recorded annual corporate profit.

And it doesn’t just end there, earlier this year, the company founded in a garage by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak reached a jaw-dropping $750 billion market valuation as it asserted its position as leader of the pack in the technology space.  

This growth was fuelled by a sharp surge in the number of iPhone sales globally, particularly in China. Further, the company sits on a princely $203 billion of cash reserve.

It has truly been a remarkable year for Apple Corporation. But just how do Apple’s tremendous financial results stake up in the African context? We seek to provide some perspective by looking at Apple’s numbers from an African vantage point, by comparing them with some interesting statistics of the African continent.

If you hadn’t paid attention to Apple’s numbers before, this fresh and fascinating analysis might just blow you over.

6.1 million: The amount of money in profit Apple made per hour in its recent record-breaking fiscal year. This number also equates to a cool $1 billion a week profit in the last 12 months, for the company.

91: The number of iPhone smartphones the company sold per minute in the last 12 months. In total, Apple sold a staggering 48 million devices this year alone, with China displaying an insatiable appetite for the company’s products.

$46: This is the amount each African citizen would stand to get if Apple’s $53.4 billion record-breaking profit was to be shared equally between Africa’s estimated 1.16 billion population.

$1.53: Interestingly, if each African spent that $46 over the period of one month (- 30 days), it would also imply $1.53 a day income for each person, and would effectively mean an end to extreme poverty on the continent – at least for a month. The international standard definition for extreme poverty is living on less than $1.25 a day.

10th largest: If Apple were an African country, basing on its annual profits, it would be the continent’s 10th largest economy out of 54 countries in nominal GDP terms.  It would be behind only Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Angola, Morocco, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia respectively.

$0.60: If Apple Corporation were to devote all of its 2015 profits to invest into Africa, the company would account for as much as 60c of each dollar spent as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the continent last year. According to the Africa Investment Report, total Foreign Direct Investment into Africa in 2014 amounted to $87 billion. 

427: The number of light rail systems similar to the one which recently opened in Addis Abbaba, that Apple’s massive $203 billion cash pile would be able to finance on the continent. In September, Ethiopia opened the first-ever light rail system in sub-Saharan Africa, which was constructed at a cost of $475 million. This would roughly translate to 8 such rail systems for each African country, each with its own dedicated power grid.

2.5 times: This is the number of times that Apple’s profits would be able to cover the whole of Africa’s total annual debt repayments. Africa reportedly spends at least $21 billion a year repaying its local and foreign debts.

217%: The percentage by which Apple’s $750 billion total market capitalisation exceeds that of Africa’s top 10 largest companies as at 31 December 2014. Some of these top African companies include mining giant BHP Billiton, media company Naspers, Dangote Cement, and the MTN Group.

$6.2 billion: The amount by which the combined net-worth of Africa’s 10 richest people surpasses Apple Corporation’s annual profits. According to the 2015 Forbes rich list, the 10 richest Africans have a combined net-worth of $59.6 billion.

As Apple continues its exploits, we are all left to wonder just how high this behemoth of a company will soar. But perhaps for the African observer, the question on their lips is whether Africa will one day be able to produce its own highly successful company to scale the dizzy heights Apple Corporation has? Imagine the impact such a company would have on Africa’s story.

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