Coca-Cola to Invest $5 Billion in Africa With Partners

Coca-Cola Co., the world’s largest beverage company, plans to invest $5 billion with its bottling partners in Africa over the next six years, to create new manufacturing capacity, sustainability initiatives and jobs.

The new expenditure will raise investment in the region to $17 billion from 2010 to 2020, the Atlanta-based company said in a statement. The company also announced the initiative at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which is taking place in Washington today.

Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent is expanding in Africa to capitalize on a growing middle class with more money to spend on high-end soft drinks and juices. Nigeria and Kenya, among the major economies in the region, consume fewer than 50 servings of Coke’s beverages per person each year, compared with the 745 servings per individual consumed in Mexico.

“Even as we see tremendous growth potential in Africa, we know that the strength and sustainability of our business are tied directly to the strength and sustainability of the African communities we proudly serve,” Kent said in the statement.

Coca-Cola is increasingly relying on overseas markets to maintain growth as it contends with sluggish demand for drinks such as juice and Diet Coke in North America.

The new investment will also be channeled into Coca-Cola’s cooling and distribution equipment and production, its supply chain across the continent, as well as supporting programs for safe water access, sustainable sourcing and the economic empowerment of women, the company said.

Kent also announced that the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation will expand its Replenish Africa Initiative to reach an additional four million African people through 2020. The program, which works with public and private partners, supports clean water access and sanitation initiatives across the region. The new target is in addition to an existing goal of reaching two million people by 2015.

Today’s U.S.-Africa Business Forum is hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Commerce Department. Bloomberg Philanthropies is led by Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

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