WINDHOEK — The world’s second biggest brewer, SABMiller, plans to start construction of a new brewery in northern Namibia soon.The plant will cost close to R234m.
This is after a 21-year struggle by the company to get a licence to brew beer in Namibia. Construction would have started last year, but delays in rezoning the land on which the brewery is to be built have held up construction.
Cobus Bruwer, SABMiller’s representative in Namibia, said the group remains committed to the brewery. He said the plant would initially have been built in the Okahandja region of the Otjizondjupa province.
He said that this region was still the main option, but to ensure that SABMiller gained optimal benefit from the brewery other areas, such as Tsumeb, Oshakati and Ondangwa, were also being considered.
The new brewery will involve a 220 000 hectolitre plant, but be built with a view to further expansion. The company will also invest in a bottling plant for 750ml recyclable bottles, as well as a warehouse, said Bruwer.
The current size of the Namibian beer market is 860 000 hectolitres. Bruwer said SABMiller’s market share is around 22%.
The big player in the Namibian market is Namibian Breweries (Nambrew). Nambrew distributes Tafel Lager, Windhoek Lager and Windhoek Draught — and the group, which is also active in South Africa, is going from strength to strength.
Nambrew brews around 2.2m hectolitres a year at its Windhoek brewery.
Bruwer said SABMiller’s business plan targets the Namibian market and thus not necessarily exports. Its strategy is to increase its footprint in developing countries.
Two challenges are water, electricity and competition from Nambrew, which is already well established in the market.
Bruwer acknowledges that the availability of water and electricity are central to a final decision on where to build the brewery. Local players welcome SABMiller’s entry into the Namibian market.
Lionel Matthews, chief executive of the Old Mutual Investment Group in Namibia, said the competition would be good for the Namibian economy.
He did not believe SABMiller’s brewery would be a threat to Nambrew because it could supply only 10% of the local production capacity. Nambrew managing director Des van Jaarsveld said one challenge that SABMiller might encounter in Namibia was the availability of skills to manage the brewery.
The new SABMiller brewery will create some 150 new permanent jobs.