Story by Kayode Tokede
The Global CEO and Chairman of The Coca-Cola Company, James Quincey culminated a tour of Africa last week. Accompanied by his extended leadership team, the visit was a testament of Coca-Cola’s commitment to Africa and its interest in the vast opportunity that the continent presents in driving the beverage company’s overarching growth strategy over the next decade.
Visiting Nigeria and South Africa, Quincey met with business and political leaders as the company scales up investments and looks forward to continued growth on the continent. Key among his engagements was discussions with Africa’s foremost entrepreneur and industrialist Dr Aliko Dangote who stands out as an example of indigenous African investors who are driving growth across the continent.
Other engagements included meetings with top executives from Discovery Group, MTN, Unilever and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and thought leaders such as Tony Elumelu (Chairman of Heirs Holding), Doyin Salami (Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic Advisory Council) and Fred Swaniker from the Africa Leadership Academy. These engagements provided Quincey and his team with critical insights about Africa’s opportunities.
“Having operated in Africa for over 90 years as a local business in every country, we believe Africa is a region that will increasingly influence the growth trajectory of our global businesses in just a few years,” he said. “Together with our bottling partners, we continue to reinforce our stake on the continent by accelerating investments that strengthen and scale our capabilities and expand into new businesses to drive our Total Beverage Company aspiration.”
Quincey highlighted a number of positive and encouraging developments across Africa which he described as important foundations for strong economic growth and, if sustained, will fast track the continent’s role as a global growth engine. These include the growing scale of domestic investments by African investors across sectors and the potential of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Added to these were Africa’s positive consumer demographics, the infrastructure expansion in many countries, and the growing emphasis on building African talent.
“It is clear that Africa is indeed a region that will increasingly influence the growth trajectory of global businesses and we have taken some bold measures to strengthen the Coca-Cola System in Africa for long term growth, enhancing our capacity to continue to win in the continent’s increasingly competitive landscape.”
He outlined the company’s growth plans in Africa, including continuously investing to boost capacity ahead of demand, consolidating the bottling system to build scale and investing in new businesses to accelerate growth and expand its beverage offering. He also cited Coca-Cola’s role in spurring Africa’s economy through the eco-system the company has built and continues to foster investments across multiple sectors on the continent.
Underpinning this, he emphasized that the Company is committed to building a talent engine in Africa, creating shared opportunities to enhance the prosperity of communities across the continent.
“We have an enduring belief that our business is only as sustainable as the communities in which we operate, that means for our business to grow sustainably, our communities must grow also.”
This is the strong motivation for the significant investments the company continues to make across Africa to help build more resilient communities, enabling the economic empowerment of women and youth downstream and upstream of Coca-Cola’s supply chain; providing access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities through its Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN); supporting governments to strengthen health systems through Project Last Mile and the Safe Birth Initiative; and addressing environmental concerns particularly around plastic packaging with its World Without Waste vision.
Said Quincey: “Over the past 90 years together with our bottling partners, we have built pervasive and very strong local businesses, creating shared opportunity in every country on the continent. This has been one of our greatest strengths and we will continue playing a significant role in Africa’s sustainable and inclusive growth”.