Nampak Ltd. has agreed with partners to build glass-bottle manufacturing plants to take advantage of growing demand for packaged consumer goods and bottled drinks in the two countries where a quarter of Africans live — Nigeria and Ethiopia.
The Johannesburg-based company has reached a preliminary agreement with a partner for a factory in Ethiopia and is now seeking financing for a project with a potential cost of $68 million, Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter, 47, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office last week. That will help supply drinks makers including brewer Heineken NV and soft drinks producer Coca-Cola Inc, he said. Nampak has also “made good progress” on a Nigerian factory, the CEO said.
“Africa is the story for us,” De Ruyter said. “People talk about Latin America, they talk about India, China or other emerging markets, but we think the opportunity that we’ve got in Africa is so big and this is what we know we can do well.”
Consumer-goods companies such as U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc and brewer SABMiller Plc are expanding in Africa to take advantage of economic growth and rising household incomes. Many people in the sub-Saharan region are moving away from subsistence existences and becoming consumers of packaged goods for the first time, according to De Ruyter, creating a growing market for can and bottle manufacturers. Nampak is also the continent’s biggest maker of beverage cans.
“There’s a youth bulge of people reaching drinking age” in Africa, De Ruyter said. Producing glass bottles and cans “makes a lot of sense.”
Nigeria, with a population of about 177 million, has 44 percent of its population under the age of 15 while 46 percent of Ethiopia’s 97 million people are below that age, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That compares with 16 percent of the 403 million people who live in the euro area.
Nampak is expanding outside of South Africa to help reverse declining profit margins in its home market, where it’s cutting costs. The continent’s most-industrialized economy contracted in the second quarter of 2015 for the first time in a year, while consumer confidence dropped to a 14-year low in the same period.