Johannesburg - South Africa’s beverages company Coca-Cola SA Bottling Company (Sabco) aims to reduce the unemployment rate among the youth and women in Africa.
The company said yesterday that these two groups were the most disadvantaged and neglected when it came to job opportunities.
“The fall of the commodity prices in countries, such as Zambia, has given rise to unemployment and poverty on the African continent,” Jacques Vermeulen, the chief executive at Sabco, said. “It is our duty to uplift those communities by creating opportunities, employment and training so that they can participate in the economy.”
According to Statistics SA, youths make up 55 percent of South Africa’s 35.8 million people of working age. The country’s unemployment rate stood at 26.7 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Vermeulen said Coca Cola would create opportunities by training the youth and women so they could grab opportunities in the company as they arose.
“We must ensure that small enterprises are supported and uplifted because they are important for job creation, not only in South Africa but across the continent,” he said.
In Mozambique, Coca-Cola has helped more than 20 000 women entrepreneurs launch their own businesses with start-up ice boxes and beverages. In Mozambique, Sabco supported about 45 000 jobs, directly and indirectly, through its business. Vermeulen said 30 percent of these jobs were held by women.
“We are looking forward to creating more opportunities for women and the youth in the future, as they are the mostly disadvantaged when it comes to employment.
“The company will continue to seek some investments and mergers throughout the continent when opportunities arise. When we talk about Mozambique, we have been in that country since 1951. So we are going to invest in the sub-Saharan (region) and in the rest of the continent.”
Part of that investment, announced by Coca-Cola in 2010, is $17 billion (R250bn) for the next decade, which forms part of its 2020 Vision.
The group made a fresh commitment to continue with its investments in Africa when it opened a new $130 million bottling plant in Mozambique last week.
Investing in Africa
“Coca-Cola has been investing in Africa for almost 90 years and is today present in every African country with over 70 000 employees across 145 bottling and canning facilities,” Muhtar Kent, the chairman and the chief executive of The Coca-Cola Company, said.
“We have continued to increase investment in our business in Africa with $17bn committed across our system for investments in distribution, infrastructure, manufacturing and marketing during this decade.“
Initially, the Matola Gare plant would operate two lines, a glass bottling line with installed capacity capable of bottling 48 000, 300ml glass bottles per hour, or 14.3 million physical cases annually and a plastic bottle line that could produce 24 000, two-litre bottles per hour or 28.6 million physical cases per year.