Statistics – they never tell the full story. We knew there was no food in South Sudan. We knew that the water situation was dire. We knew there were only 16 kilometres of paved roads. But did we know that the province/state/country/semi-autonomous region had none of its own beer? Clearly not. Otherwise somebody might have done something.
Fortunately, those good people at SABmiller, the South African brewing giant, have come to the rescue with a factory in Juba, the capital, and an investment of 32 million British pounds. They are making White Bull, a hearty lager with a strength o f 4.2%. The beer has quickly become popular – no surprises there.
SABmiller must be applauded for establishing a business – at significant cost – in an area where foreign investment is practically nil because of the political problems. And they are set to enjoy significant returns on their investment, what with no competition and a thirsty market. They’ve also employed and trained some 250 people. Having said that, it’s not all good; remember the profits are flowing to London and South Africa, and not back into South Sudanese reconstruction. But, in this instance, that might not be a terrible thing. SABmiller are big enough to invest long-term, and they will also be generating plenty of tax which will give them some clout with the government. And they’ll be wanting the same basics as everyone else: clean water for the beer, and better roads for the distribution, which equals more drinks for everyone. Cheers.