PORT Elizabeth-based international company Coca-Cola Sabco (South African Bottling Company) has expanded its Africa-wide operations by commissioning a R1.9-billion state- of-the-art facility in Mozambique.
Built on the largest construction site in Coca-Cola Sabco’s history in Africa at Matola Gare, south of the capital Maputo, the official opening of the all-new, highly advanced Coca-Cola Sabco Mozambique (CCSM) plant attracted a wide range of business and political heavyweights at its commissioning on Thursday last week.
They included Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, Forbes-listed Coca-Cola Company international chairman and chief executive Muhtar Kent, and Bay-based CocaCola Sabco non-executive chairman Philipp Gutsche.
Held in a buoyant atmosphere, the fully automated plant was opened by Nyusi, who unveiled a plaque and cut a ribbon to inaugurate the 21-hectare site.
Constructed over three years, the plant is the company’s largest green-field facility in the seven regional markets – South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda – in which Coca-Cola Sabco operates.
The plant’s fully computerised operations, which include energy, waste-water recycling and building management systems, play an essential role in the operation’s 300ml glass bottling line.
It is capable of producing a whopping 48 000 bottled beverages per hour, making it Coca-Cola Sabco’s biggest bottling line of its type in its regional markets.
At the launch, Nyusi said that Coca-Cola had been one of the first international companies to invest in the country after its independence.
“Not even the devastating flood we experienced in 2000 could stop Coca-Cola,” he said.
“Its investment in job creation and the growth of skills in Mozambique is testament to the company’s commitment to assisting us grow our economy.
“We would like to congratulate Coca-Cola on the opening of this technologically advanced bottling plant,” Nyusi said.
In his brief address, Kent pointed out that Coca-Cola had been investing in Africa for nearly 90 years and that the company’s products were available in every country on the continent.
Coca-Cola collectively employed more than 70 000 people across 145 bottling and canning facilities, he said.
“We have continued to increase investment in our business in Africa with $17-billion [R252-billion] committed across our system for investments in distribution, infrastructure, manufacturing and marketing this decade,” Kent said.
“We are proud to be one of the largest employers across Africa as well as in Mozambique.
“Today’s opening is the latest example of our continued commitment to refresh African consumers, while at the same time creating opportunities for enterprise and employment along our supply chain.”
Turning to Nyusi, Kent said: “We are no longer tourists in Mozambique. We are now part of Mozambique and are here to serve the tourists who come to Mozambique.
“Coca-Cola will be here for eternity.”
On the sidelines of the launch, Port Elizabeth-based Coca-Cola Sabco chief executive Jacques Vermeulen was upbeat and said the new plant had been designed for the future and had significant capacity to expand production when required.
“While the plant currently operates on a single shift, production can be ramped up during peak periods, such as holidays and the festive season,” Vermeulen said.
“The plant was also designed with export capabilities and capacity in mind.”
Vermeulen was equally enthusiastic about the potential to grow its Mozambican market, revealing that the average Mozambican customer consumed one Coca-Cola beverage every 13 days.
“So if you look at the figures, there is certainly plenty of potential to grow this market,” he said.
Coca-Cola Sabco, which employs about 8 000 staff across all its bottling operations in Africa – including two others in Mozambique – says it has also invested heavily in social upliftment in the country.
Projects include continuing to support women, in particular, in establishing small beverage retailing businesses.
There have also been investments in infrastructure like roads and water sterilisation to benefit Mozambique’s population of about 26 million people.
Flights, meals and accommodation for the launch were sponsored by Coca-Cola Sabco.