Coca-Cola has announced a US$ 62 million investment in Kenya over the next three years, reinforcing its 63-year commitment and confidence in the country and region.
The investment – which will be channeled towards modernization of equipment and expanding existing capacity as well as increasing its presence in juice – reinforces the US$ 12 billion investment commitment for the continent by the year 2020. Already, the beverage giant has pumped US$ 6 billion into the African economy over the last decade.
“Coca-Cola is bullish about Africa and our commitment to the continent is enduring and unshakable,” said Ahmet Bozer, the company’s Eurasia-Africa Group President. “We see tremendous growth potential for Africa and particularly Kenya. Its steady rate of economic growth, well-educated population and efforts by the Government in reform and infrastructure upgrade over the last six years have given us confidence and optimism about doing business here,” he said.
Evidence of this view is supported by recent operational changes with the Nairobi regional headquarters now responsible for a total of 39 countries – an increase from the 27 countries it covered previously – adding Nigeria and French West Africa to its existing portfolio of East and Central Africa markets.
Demographic and economic trends in the region are fuelling investment – both from Coca-Cola and other companies. According to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, approximately 70 per cent of the population in Kenya is under the age of 30. This, coupled with other factors such as increasing discretionary income and a rising middle class, has alerted international companies to the future and expansive growth potential of both the region and the continent, in general.
With seven bottling plants and over 22 production lines across Kenya alone, Coca-Cola is the largest non-alcoholic beverage investor in the country. The Company plans to use the funds from the US$ 62 million investment to upgrade existing plants across the country, increasing their efficiencies and outputs while allowing the Bottlers to serve the market even better.
In addition, the Company will use the investment to further develop the juice industry in the region, revamping the Beverage Services Kenya (BSK) plant in Nairobi and turning it into the competitive hub for juice manufacturing.
As part of its commitment towards developing the juice manufacturing sector in East Africa, Coca-Cola has announced an USD 11 million partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The partnership will give more than 35,000 mango and fruit farmers from the Rift Valley, Central and Mount Kenya, and Eastern Provinces, access to the Coca-Cola local supply chain for the first time. As a result, these farmers have the potential to see their farm incomes double by 2014.
The Kenyan soft drinks market is currently experiencing a huge evolution, bringing increased focus on juices and malt-based soft drinks. There is a steady increase in consumption of fruit and vegetable juices in Kenya with analysts estimating a volume growth of 3 per cent annually.
Coca-Cola both directly and indirectly employs over 700,000 in the region – the bulk of whom are directly engaged in bottler operations, and the remainder of whom form an integral part of wholesaler and distributor network.
“Our people are our greatest assets and one of the key ingredients to our success,” says Bozer. As one of the biggest private sector employers in Kenya, the Company strongly believes in attracting and retaining the best talent as well as empowering and developing employees.
“Our employees, our customers, and our partners have helped propel Coca-Cola to a position of leadership in the market,” he adds. “We will continue to sustain this long-standing commitment to our people and to the region. In addition, the Company will continue to minimize negative impact on the environment and work towards developing the communities in which we operate.”
In addition to its commitment to strengthening the economy, Coca-Cola has also made a long-term commitment to sustainability; working both internally as well as with communities to create greater shared value.
Externally, Coca-Cola has allocated a total of USD 30 million to the RAIN project, which aims to provide over 2 million people in Africa with access to clean water by 2015. The company also actively encourages women empowerment and entrepreneurship through its intricate Micro-Distribution System. Close to half of its 700 Micro-Distribution Centres (MDCs) are owned by women. In Kenya, these MDCs serve over 100,000 stores daily, providing products to over one million people.
Coca-Cola has also taken a keen interest in promoting active lifestyles among teens and young adults through youth sports programs such as COPA Coca-Cola and Sprite Slam, and remains committed to the development of sport in the country.
Coca-Cola is also working to reduce its carbon footprint and is focused on environmental stewardship. The state-of-the-art headquarters in Nairobi, for example, is an eco-friendly building furnished with a Building Management System that enhances energy efficiency.
Its recent multi-million dollar investment and other ongoing initiatives not only demonstrates Coca-Cola’s confidence in the market, but is further proof of the Company’s long-standing and long-term commitment to the region.