URUGWIRO VILLAGE - The country’s leading beverage producer BRALIRWA has vowed to intensify the use of locally produced ingredients in manufacturing beverages in a bid to support local market and socio-economic growth.
Speaking to journalists shortly after lengthy talks with President Paul Kagame at Urugwiro Village yesterday, the visiting CEO of Heineken NV, Jean Francois Van Boxmeer, said that the company has plans to scale up the use of local ingredients from about 20% to 40%.
“50 years down the road, the company is in its youthful stages. I see more growth, I see more exports. I see more use of local products especially maize and sorghum. I see more community support and intervention.”
“These are some of the things we shared with the President. What is important is what we are going to do in the future after 50 years and these are the perspectives we as BRALIRWA wish to commit ourselves to,” said Van Boxmeer.
The Heineken chief is in the country for the celebration of 50 years of Primus and BRALIRWA.
Van Boxmeer, who heads the Heineken NV consortium operating in over 65 countries worldwide, said that the brewer intends to storm and compete with regional brands especially within the East African Community following Rwanda’s entry.
He further noted that Rwanda and other African countries where the effects of the Global Financial crisis have not been largely felt, has been vital in maintaining Heineken afloat during the crisis.
“The Global Financial Crisis has affected everybody, beer is not immune though we are less touched, perhaps like other sectors such as mining or the automobile industry, but we have to deal with diminished demands elsewhere in the world,” he said, adding that in Rwanda, they resisted quite well compared to other operations.
Asked about the high retail prices, Van Boxmeer noted that high prices on beverages in Rwanda, perhaps the highest in the region, accrue from high costs of operations such as transportation and importation of ingredients, which is a costly procedure.
Trade and Industry Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa, however said that Government will work with the brewer to ensure that retail prices remain consumer friendly, adding that this year for example there hasn’t been any increment.
She also expressed the interest by the government to sell part of its stake in the industry to allow private investors to come in as a way of a making the brewery increase output.
Heineken owns 70% shares in BRALIRWA while 30% is owned by the Government.
Sources indicate that Government intends to sell 25% s and maintain 5% in the beverage manufacturer.
Though she could not confirm the exact figures, Nsanzabaganwa revealed that the Government will retain a certain amount of shares in BRALIRWA, unlike previous reports which suggested that the all shares would be sold.
“We intend to maintain some shares in BRALIRWA as agreed, as a way of monitoring the activities of such big investments,” Nsanzabaganwa said.
She noted that measures to reduce retail prices on beverages are underway and among the long term plans is to ensure energy availability, especially Methane Gas, and easing transport means especially when the railway linking Kigali to Dar es Salaam is in place.
Asked whether Heineken would be interested in buying Government stakes, Van Boxmeer said that the Dutch based consortium would prefer having Rwandan partners to co-run the brewery.
Today, a big gala to climax a three-month countrywide road show campaign to mark 50-years of the Primus brand and BRALIRWA will take place at Amahoro National Stadium and will be graced by several international artistes.
According to Sven Piedriet, the BRALIRWA Managing Director, over 35,000 people are expected to attend the fete where a Toyota Hilux Pick-up will be given to a lucky winner.