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Our breweries in sub-Saharan Africa are growing in the rapidly-developing region

In many ways, South Africa is the spiritual home of SABMiller – but our business on the continent also spreads much further north.

Our breweries in a range of African countries are generating long-term benefits for both the company and the national economies as a whole. 

Nile Breweries, a leading producer of clear beers, opened its second Ugandan brewery in August 2013, doubling the company’s potential capacity in the country to 3.6 million hectolitres per year. Based in Mbarara, western Uganda, the US$80m project provides direct employment for 180 people in the rural community, while also creating jobs for farmers in the Ankole and Kigezi regions, as well as for others in the local supply chain.

National Breweries in Zambia is investing US$26m in upgrading its opaque-beer brewery in Lusaka. The revamped plant – based on the existing site, which dates back to the 1960s – will have a 2.1 million hectolitre capacity, with a focus on the popular sorghum-based Chibuku brands, Shake Shake and the premium, bottled Super – a new variation with a longer shelf life. This high-tech brewery, to be commissioned later in 2014, will use cutting-edge technology to brew beers that are deeply rooted in African tradition.

The state-of-the-art brewery will have an annual production capacity of one million hectolitres, the equivalent to 267 million bottles a year, and create employment opportunities for up to 260 Zambians. The investment at Lusaka follows the opening of Zambian Breweries’ US$90m Ndola Brewery in May 2013.

In November 2013, Accra Brewery began a two-year, US$100m project to expand its brewery at Adabraka in Ghana. The development is expected to double production capacity, and involves construction of two state-of-the-art packaging lines, a new warehouse, material storage areas, waste water treatment plant, electricity sub-station, vehicle workshop and modern office complex. The work at the site will also improve energy efficiency and reduce waste. The project is creating jobs in both the skilled and unskilled labour markets, with the employment of construction workers and additional operatives to work at the expanded site. 

Ghana’s economy is growing significantly and there is an increased market for premium, imported beers, such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro.

Intafact Beverages Ltd in Nigeria announced the expansion of Onitsha brewery in January 2014, with work expected to be completed during 2015. His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, originally  the brewery in August 2012 after we made an initial investment of over US$100m, making it the largest single investment in Anambra State for almost 20 years.

Based in south-eastern Nigeria, Onitsha brews popular local brand Hero Lager. Due to our growth and the success of Hero Lager, a further US$110m will be invested in the brewery to triple its current annual capacity from 700,000 to 2.1 million hectolitres. The brewery is expected to employ a further 200 people after the expansion.

We are proud to have launched the first-ever commercial-scale, cassava-based clear beer, called Impala

Cassava is a difficult crop to use on a commercial scale, because the root deteriorates quickly once it’s been harvested. Yet it’s also one of the most widely-grown crops in Africa and so we saw an opportunity to create a new beer and a new market for subsistence farmers. By providing a mobile processing unit, cassava can be processed on the farm, ready for the brewery – and the farmers are able to earn an income from the crop, often for the first time. 

Since we launched Impala in Mozambique in 2011, over 2500 smallholder cassava farmers have become part of the beer’s supply chain and we have won a number of major awards for this project, including Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at the major industry event, Drinktec, and the Best Philanthropic Business of the Year at the African Achievers (AfIA) Awards.

The project has been such a success – and consumer reaction so positive – that we have already gone on to launch another cassava-based beer, Eagle, in Ghana, and have plans to follow suit in other countries in Africa.  

Breweries across Africa are increasing their potential capacities with the development of new, modern production lines.

Swaziland Beverages is already reaping the rewards of its recent US$6m packaging-line upgrade, enabling the plant to meet global brewing standards as well as customer demand.

Meanwhile, Maluti Mountain Brewery in Lesotho is installing a new can-packaging line during 2014, with a capacity of 12,500 cans an hour. It will package beers including Maluti Premium Lager, Castle Lager and Carling Black Label, as well as Coca-Cola.