Wish you were beer: Africa is beverage’s next frontier

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Wish you were beer: Africa is beverage’s next frontier

Interest by brewing giants is a signal the world’s next great urban labour force will be bigger than China and India’s

David Fickling

A three-way fight over control of Africa’s beer industry may be approaching its endgame.  

The tussle between Heineken, Diageo and units of AB InBev for control of the world’s youngest continent has been going on for decades. Heineken’s acquisition of SA winemaker Distell Group Holdings and Namibia Breweries to create a €4bn (R71bn) business, announced last week, may be the final piece of the puzzle.

The attractions for brewers of a region overlooked by other global businesses should be obvious. Beer is all about demographics, and Africa’s are among the most promising. By 2050, its nations will have a larger combined population than either China or India, accounting for one in four humans. That’s an opportunity for companies far beyond the beverage sector. To date, fast-growing labour forces and abundant natural resources have failed to bring Africa the sort of economic growth that other emerging regions have enjoyed. This may be on the verge of changing...

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