Africa continues to offer attractive opportunities within the group's global portfolio of businesses. In the last decade, the economies of sub-Saharan Africa have grown faster than the newly industrialised Asian economies (albeit from a low base) and have proved resilient to the global recession. With moderating inflation, growing trade surpluses, falling external debt and expanding populations, Africa's economic prospects are encouraging. Per capita consumption of beer is low but rising. There's also good potential for substituting commercial brands for unregulated and unsafe home brews and for introducing new products at the premium end of the portfolio – strategies that SABMiller is vigorously pursuing.
After 10 years of steadily rising demand across Africa, one of SABMiller's top priorities has been to increase capacity to keep pace. The past two years have seen substantial investment with new breweries at Mbeya in Tanzania, Nampula in Mozambique, Luanda in Angola and Juba in Southern Sudan as well as upgrades and expansions at Jinja in Uganda and Lusaka in Zambia. The group has also purchased the Pabod brewery in Port Harcourt to gain its first foothold in Nigeria, the second-largest beer market on the continent.
Other acquisitions have further diversified the portfolio into non-beer categories – part of a strategy of using the existing operational infrastructure to sell water, soft drinks and malt drinks alongside beer. In the past two years SABMiller has acquired a Zambian maheu business (a non-alcoholic traditional beverage), and three water businesses – Voltic in Ghana and Nigeria, Rwenzori in Uganda and Ambo in Ethiopia. Africa's water market is growing at 17.5% a year and water has grown to 4% of sales volume within SABMiller's African portfolio in just two years.
In Ghana, new facilities for Club soft drinks produced a leap in sales after a period in which growth was constrained by lack of availability. Also in Ghana, Voltic's sales have done well after improvements in availability and distribution. To meet growing demand in Angola and Southern Sudan, the business opened a new soft drinks plant in Luanda and began producing soft drinks and water in Juba, all adding further value to SABMiller's African portfolio.
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