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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

SAB driving the SA economy

The beer category was a major contributor to economic activity in the Gauteng province.

When it comes to growing the country’s economy, SA Breweries (SAB) – a subsidiary of AB-InBev – has proven not to pay lip-service.

This follows making a pledge of R4.5 billion in investment during the recent fourth SA investment conference (SAIC), with spin-offs destined to rejuvenate the ailing township economy.

The company this week marked the visit to South Africa by AB-InBev global CEO  Michel Doukeris and SAB CEO Richard Rivett-Carnac, engaging President Cyril Ramaphosa and assuring him that the pledge made at SAIC would be in support of economic growth and sustainability efforts in South Africa and across the continent.

With the alcohol industry value chain contributing about R75 billion to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), Rivett-Carnac said SAB has already begun with the expansion of the breweries “and we will realise the full investment in four years”.

The SAB 2022 pledge included:

  • A planned capital expenditure investment of R573 million in Africa.
  • A total of R1.9 billion towards returnable packaging – enabling SAB to continue transforming the industry by employing black suppliers.
  • Over R8.2 million towards SAB’s Prospecton Brewery in KwaZulu-Natal’s Durban in support of job creation across the value chain – increasing tax revenues and additional GDP for the domestic economy.
  • A total of R510 million towards upgrading SAB’s Ibhayi Brewery in the Eastern Cape, to support job creation – leading to 14 000 additional jobs through the value chain and generating R2.5 billion in additional GDP for the economy. 

Explained Rivett-Carnac: “Over the last five years, we have invested in transforming our supply chain to not only source close to 95% of our raw materials locally, but also transform our supplier base.

ALSO READ: SAB to invest R920 million in Prospecton and Ibhayi breweries

“Through the SAB Thrive Fund, we have invested more than R200 million in supplier development to drive our local sourcing programme by transforming and growing our suppliers.

“We sustained and helped transform the local glass manufacturing sector through our support of Isanti Glass’s acquisition of Nampak glass.

“This acquisition transferred the ownership and control of a very important manufacturing asset to black industrialist and the staff of the business.

“We believe that local value chains are important and should be protected and secured in order to grow the economy.”

Reflecting on his SA visit, Doukeris said public-private partnerships were “critical to supporting national and continental economic objectives”.

Beer, said  Doukeris, was “generally produced locally, distributed locally and consumed locally – making our industry uniquely positioned to provide higher direct economic benefits to support communities and economies around the world, and right here in Africa”.

“AB InBev and SAB remain committed to South Africa and the continent’s economic recovery to help drive a more sustainable and inclusive future,” he said.

Township economy revitalisation, partnership opportunities on investment into Gauteng and exports, have topped a meeting between Premier David Makhura and the company top brass.

SAB plays a crucial role in the province through its plants in Alrode, Chamdor and Rosslyn and the beer ecosystem.

The beer category was a major contributor to economic activity in the Gauteng province – crucial to provincial tourism, with  60% of SAB’s beer brewed in Gauteng.

SAB said the township economy was important for the company, due to the group’s footprint in Gauteng, inclusive of three plants – contributing to the Township Economic Development Act.

It committed itself to revitalising township economies through its responsible trading programmes under  SAB Sharp. 

Said Makhura: “As Gauteng government, we will do all that is needed to ensure that SAB continues to invest into our township businesses, which is in line with the Township Economic Development Act – I signed a few weeks ago in Soweto.”