Heineken opened its first brewery in Côte d'Ivoire this month competing directly with French Groupe Castel, which operates the only brewery in the fast growing West African country. The Dutch brewer and Africa-focused trading firm CFAO FMCG invested 100 billion CFA francs (approx. €100 million). Heineken holds 51% in the new company called Brassivoire while CFAO holds the rest. The capacity of the brewery located near the commercial capital Abidjan is said to be 1.6 million hectoliters.
CFAO and Heineken already cooperate successfully in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they operate since 1994 two breweries and two bottling companies. Brands produced in Congo are Primus, Ngok', Guinness and Heineken as well as different soft drinks under an agreement with Coca Cola. The products are sold through 16.000 points of sale.
In in Côte d'Ivoire the two partners will face a fierce competition of local rival and Solibra, owned and operated by French Groupe Castel. The up to now monopolist brews beer under its own brand names Castel, Flag and Solibra Bock but produces also Diageo's Guinness and Carlsberg's Tuborg under license.
Nevertheless, new general manager at Brassivoire, Alexander Koch has ambitious plans: "We want to be the leading beer seller in Ivory Coast," he said in an interview with Reuters. Koch, holding a master degree in law from Leiden University, has already held several positions within the Heineken group in the Netherlands, Rwanda and Greece. He started in May 2015 in Côte d'Ivoire and followed the new brewery project from scratch.