A worker stands next to a shelf with bottles of Coca-Cola at the Makro Store Riversands of South African retailer Massmart in Midrand. Coca-Cola plans to invest $1bn in the region in the next five years. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
CAPE TOWN – Coca-Cola Southern and East Africa plans to invest $1 billion (R14.9bn) in its regional operations over the next five years, says the president for the group's region, Bruno Pietracci.

Interviewed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa conference on Thursday, he said the local market still held great potential for the group, even though the Southern and East Africa region was already one of the top 10 regions for the group in the world in terms of size, both in terms of volume and profit.

He said the $1bn investment would be spent on the introduction of new products, the expansion of capacity, new trucks, on innovations and to support the group’s brands. “Coca-Cola believes Africa will be a very important growth engine for the group in the next five to ten years,” both for the sparkling and clear drink markets.

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As a region, the group was growing in single digits, generally in terms of volumes and profit, but there were some countries where the group was growing in double digits, and some countries, such as Zimbabwe, where growth was very low. Nevertheless, “there are opportunities everywhere we look in this region,” Pietracci said.

He said that if anything came out of this year’s WEF conference, he hoped it was that there would be renewed co-operation between the public and private sectors in the region, which he believed would be essential for African countries to grow in the future.

He cited as an example of a successful private and public sector partnership Coca-Cola’s Petco recycling programme of plastic beverage bottles that was started in South Africa in 2004. The programme had also been introduced to Kenya and was in the process of being rolled out in Tanzania and Ethiopia.

The project, apart from recycling almost two-thirds of the plastic bottles filled by Coca-Cola in South Africa, also provided a source of income for some 60000 people, said Pietracci.

He said the 4th industrial revolution would enable a group like Coca-Cola and its bottlers and franchises to use more sophisticated processes to provide more solutions for consumers and customers. Another example of public-private sector partnership was recent steps by the government to reduce sugar intake for health reasons, a trend that was likely to continue.

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