Jean-François van Boxmeer, chairperson of Heineken International told CNBC Africa on the side-lines of WEF Africa in Nigeria that stability was critical for attracting foreign direct investment.
“Risk perception differs from companies that have been working in the continent for decades with those companies that are new.”
There has been a growing risk perception in the continent partly fuelled by civil unrest and policies that have been enacted in certain countries across the region in the last decade.
Heineken’s operations include 57 breweries and plants across 20 African countries.
“We have a long story with Africa as our involvement with the continent started in the 1920s. Over the last ten years for our group, Africa has been the fasted growing region in the world accounting a fifth of our total revenue.”
“Africa is big, meaningful and is growing hence attracting the lion share of our investment.”
On inclusive growth van Boxmeer noted the importance of utilising local producers to supply implements.
“Inclusive growth should benefit a large number of people. We do our part through direct employment and over a decade now, we have also been investing in the continent through downstream agriculture produce.”
“This requires collaboration with governments which is now anchored in many African governments’ policies which wasn’t the situation 20 years ago.”
“We have our biggest success story in Nigeria where we started 15 years ago and now half of our supplies comes from local producers and this is increasing every year,” he noted.
Heineken International has a community of 50 000 farmers working to produce 100 000 tonnes of sorghum that the company use in Nigeria.
“The situation is improving due to pro-active agriculture policies that will move people from subsistence farming into commercial farming.”
He added that though foreign investment was important, what Africa needs is domestic investment.
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Van Boxmeer said that Africa will continue to grow due to its competitive advantage of having the strongest demographic group in the world.
BY TRUST MATSILELE