AFRICA – The Coca-Cola Company plans to invest US$1 billion in its Southern and East Africa region operations over the next five years.

Speaking during the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa conference, in South Africa, president South and East Africa business unit, Bruno Pietracci said that the local market still held great potential for the group, reports Business Live.

Pietracci noted that 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.

The company plans to use the US$1bn investment on the introduction of new products, expansion of its capacity and distribution network, 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.

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. However in some countries, such as Zimbabwe, the growth was very low.

Pietracci called for 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.

Pietracci also cited the public-private sector partnership as a major step by the government to reduce sugar intake for health reasons, a trend that was likely to continue.