Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) said it would invest $100 million in Kenya

By Omar Mohammed

NAIROBI (Reuters) –

A vendor walks at his Coca-Cola store in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Samrang Pring/File Photo

Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), the continent’s largest soft drinks bottler, said on Wednesday it would invest $100 million in Kenya over the next five years to improve infrastructure and launch new products.

The company, which sells and distributes Coca-Cola Co products in Africa, plans to introduce 50 new products in Kenya to add to more than 130 existing ones in the country, local Managing Director Daryl Wilson said in an interview.

“As the middle class is (growing)… they are wanting more variety,” he said, adding the new offerings would include various sugar-free and flavoured water beverages.

“Kenyan tastes are growing, the need for new brands is growing,” he said.

This month, the company launched a 7 billion Kenyan Shilling ($69 million) new juice line at its Nairobi plant. It operates four bottling plants in Kenya.

CCBA’s distribution system includes 300 official distributors reaching across the country of 45 million people.

The company operates in a dozen sub-Saharan African countries including Ethiopia and South Africa.

Kenya is second in terms of profits to Ethiopia, Wilson said, where the company has plans to open at least four or five factories in the next five years.

While Kenya’s economy offers a conducive business environment, bad rural roads take a toll on vehicles distributing products, Wilson said.

Another challenge is electricity, where inconsistent availability of power in some of its plants has forced it to deploy generators, which are expensive.

Wilson urged the government to “look at opportunities to reduce (the cost of) electricity, because it’s a big component of ours.”

($1 = 101.3500 Kenyan shillings)

(Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Maggie Fick and Mark Potter)