One of the major challenges of Africa is that there is a shortage of safe, potable water in many parts of the continent. At the same time, Africa spans the equator from above the tropic of cancer in the North to below the tropic of capricorn in the South and has a climate that is predominantly hot and thirst-generating. The African tourist industry is picking up with increasing numbers of affluent visitors arriving from Europe, Asia and the Americas. The net result is a huge demand for safe drinks to quench the thirst of locals and visitors alike.

This draft overview of the African beverages, brewing and wine industry aims to cover the key issues, the major players and the expansion and grassroots projects underway in these industries. During the course of 1997 you can expect this profile of this important industry to be expanded extensively.


The brewing industry is strong in Africa. Historically, each country had its own breweries and beer labels, many of them carrying African names such as Tusker, Kilimanjaro, Safari or Lion. South African Breweries (SAB), the fourth largest brewing group in the world, Delta Corporation in Zimbabwe and Namibian Breweries are all private companies listed on the Johannesburg, Harare and Namibian stock exchanges respectively; however further north many of the breweries are wholly or partially government owned though many are undergoing privatisation.

SAB draws 70 per cent of its attributable income from beer and is now the fourth largest brewer in the world based on total output (35 million hl in 1996). SAB earnings from its international beer interests grew 31 per cent to R172 million in the year to March 1996. Interests in Tanzania, Botswana, central Europe and northern China contributed more than 10 per cent of total group earnings, 75 per cent from African operations. The group posted a 29 per cent increase in attributable earnings to R1.7 billion. However R1,12 billion of its total attributable earnings of R1,67 billion came from beer operations. South African Breweries has established operations and partnerships in Angola, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and has taken a 70% share in Mozambique’s state-owned brewery.

SAB has to date invested $US28 million in Tanzania Breweries, in which it holds a 46 per cent stake, while Tanzania’s government holds 41 per cent and two private banks the remaining shares. SAB sales in its Tanzanian venture rose 35 per cent in 1996. SAB started operations in Tanzania in 1993 when company sales were reaching just over 495,000 hectolitres. In 1994 that increased to 620,000 hectolitres and to about 870,000 in 1995 and are expected to increase to 1.2 million hectolitres in 1996. In expectation of further market growth, Tanzanian Breweries launched a new beer brand, Kilimanjaro. This is in addition to Safari Lager which already dominates the market, selling in volumes equivalent to about 70 per cent of Tanzania’s estimated beer market of 1.7 million hectolitres a year. The next best selling brand on the market is Tusker Lager from neighbouring Kenya, while other foreign brands such as South Africa’s Castle Lager account for only about 5 per cent together. Currently SAB supply somewhere between 70 per cent and 75 per cent of all the beer in Tanzania. While per capita beer consumption remained “really low” in Tanzania, at five litres a year, that should be seen in the context of low per capita income of only about $US 100 a year. SA’s per capital income in comparison is exactly 10 times higher and South Africa’s beer consumption per capita is exactly 10 times higher than that of Tanzania at 50 litres a year. Of the US$28 million SAB has invested in Tanzania Breweries to date, $17.5 million has been spent in 1996 on facilities aimed at increasing production capacity. An additional $11 million had been planned for new expenditure in 1997, mainly for the replacement of equipment, machinery and vehicles.

Capital Breweries Ltd is building a new plant at Dodoma in Tanzania to produce Kenyan beer in competition with Tanzanian Breweries Ltd. Kenya Breweries have been providing CBL with technical and other assistance. Tanzanian Breweries, the first Tanzanian company to be privatised, has been funded by the IFC for $ 25 million to contruct a new brewery at Mwanza and to modernise breweries in Dar es Salaam and Arusha. Tanzanian Distilleries operate a distillery at Dar es Salaam which manufactures a range of local and internationally branded spirits for the highly competitive local market.

South African Breweries, Donyo Sabuk Holdings, a consortium of Kenyan entrepreneurs, and DMO, the development agency, plan to build a $45 million brewery at Thika, near Nairobi in Kenya, which will have a capacity of 800,000 hectolitres a year and will create 700 jobs. It should be fully operational at the end of 1998 and will seek a Nairobi Stock Exchange listing.

India’s United Breweries has bought a 30% stake in South Africa’s National Sorghum Breweries.

Namibia Breweries is listing on the Namibian stock exchange. Namibian Breweries increased beer sales to South Africa by more than 50% in 1995.

In order to meet market growth rates of more than 20%, Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), 64% owned by Kenyan Breweries Ltd, is planning to invest $ 30 million in an expansion that includes a new bottling line. UBL manufacture and market Guiness beers under lisence.


The beverage industry is strong in Africa with Coca Cola, Pepsi and many of the other well-known international brands of soft drinks bottled locally under lisence.

Coca Cola has plans for major expansion in Africa, having formed a US$400-million joint venture with the SA Bottling Company (SABCO), which has also been designated an anchor bottler to increase Coca-Cola’s penetration in Africa. Coca-Cola swapped its bottling interests in Kenya, Tanzania Namibia and Uganda for a 14% stake in the new company, the balance being held by the Gutsche family. Coca-Cola / SABCO approved $100 million for new capital investment projects in East Africa. The investment programme includes new bottling plants, sales service centres and equipment purchases in Mozambique, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. Two new bottling plants are planned in Mozambique and another in Uganda. An extension has been added to the Maputo plant and a new bottling line installed. Coca-Cola is to buy 45 000 tons of refined from the South African Sugar Association (Sasa) for export to its East African bottlers.

Amalgamated Beverage Industries are South Africa’s largest bottler of Coca-Cola and related cool drinks.

Following the change in government in South Africa, Pepsi returned to that country in an innovative joint venture with local black business entrepreneurs.


The wine industry has been in existence in Africa for several hundred years. While South Africa produces and exports a wide range of wines, other countries which have wine industries include Morrocco, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

Shaun Bakamoso

Greetings. I'm Shaun Bakamoso, and I'm thrilled to be your guide through the dynamic world of business news in South Africa here at mbendi.co.za. With a passion for staying informed and a keen interest in the ever-evolving landscape of business, I've dedicated myself to providing you with timely, insightful, and comprehensive coverage of the latest developments impacting the South African economy. bakamoso@gmail.com / Instagram