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Opinion: Why Coke is Upping its Planned Investments in Africa

By:  Muhtar Kent Aug 5, 2014
5by20 entrepreneur in Africa

A real bright spot in the global economy, Africa continues to achieve robust growth rates. In 2013, in fact, five of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies belonged to African nations. And consumer spending, already rising, is expected to boom between now and 2030, reaching $2.2 trillion per year. That’s more than three times the $680 billion spent by Africa’s consumers in 2008.

It should be no great surprise, then, that The Coca-Cola Company and our bottling partners announced today, at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C, our intent to ramp up our planned investment in Africa by $5 billion over the course of this decade. Between 2010 and 2020, we now expect to invest a total of $17 billion.

Muhtar Kent with a 5by20 entrepreneur in South Africa.

Muhtar Kent with a 5by20 entrepreneur in South Africa.

Why? Because we believe in Africa, and we want to refresh its citizens, build our business, and create new economic value for the people who own and operate the 900,000 shops, restaurants and other outlets that sell Coca-Cola and 68 of our other brands on the continent. That takes investing ahead of demand on, among other things, new production, distribution and cooling capacity.

As part of the summit, we also signed a Letter of Intent to launch Source Africa, a drive to secure more consistent and sustainable local agricultural ingredient sourcing for our products. Working with the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and Grow Africa, we believe Source Africa will help accelerate the growth of our business while creating new economic value for African suppliers and communities. A win-win for everyone involved.

And we didn’t stop there. After all, we know the strength and sustainability of our business is tied directly to the strength and sustainability of the communities we proudly serve across Africa and around the world.

Lack of access to safe drinking water is currently among the most pressing health and development issues facing Africa. As we work to become water neutral by 2020, Coca-Cola is committed to being part of the solution.

Today, we took the opportunity of the Summit to announce The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF)'s expansion of its Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN). Through RAIN, TCCAF has pledged to extend safe water access and sanitation programs to another 4 million people by 2020.

Women carry containers of safe drinking water to their homes from a WaterHealth Center in Liberia.

Women carry containers of safe drinking water to their homes from a WaterHealth Center in Liberia. View our RAIN image gallery.

Over the past five years, as part of an initial effort to provide safe drinking water to 2 million Africans, RAIN has launched projects across 37 countries with the support of a $30 million commitment that runs through 2015. Now we plan to improve safe water access for a total of 6 million people in Africa in this decade. 

To me, all of this is tremendously exciting. For nearly 90 years, Coca-Cola has been part of the economic and social fabric of Africa. Now we have a special chance to participate in—and help fuel—Africa’s rapid and remarkable development. We can grow our business and create more jobs and economic opportunity across the continent, all while helping build more sustainable communities and making a real difference in the lives of literally millions of people.

Opportunities of this historic magnitude don’t come along often. Along with our bottling partners, we’re determined to make the most of this one.

Muhtar Kent is chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company.