Heineken is to invest USD11 million over the next five years in Bralima SA, its 95% majority owned brewery in Kongo. The investment will be used to install a line for reusable bottles at its Bouteillerie de Kinshasa Sarl facility and to upgrade the facility for the local production of its signature Heineken brand.
“The local production of Heineken marks an important step in the development of the brewing industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” says Bralima’s managing director, Victor Madiela.
After several years in which investments were reduced due to the political uncertainty in the country, Heineken is once again showing a clear commitment to the Central African country. In this respect it was certainly also helpful that the new Heineken CEO Dolf van den Brink has a personal relation to Bralima and Kongo.
After starting working with Heineken in 2003, Mr. van den Brink had his first assignment abroad outside the Netherlandsas Commercial Director at Bralima, a role he performed for more than four years before his career path lead him to the United States as President and CEO of Heineken USA.
Mr. van den Brink arrived in Kongo in 2005, two years after the end of the Second Kongo War in 2003. Bralima and Heineken was heavily criticized for supporting a system during the Second Congo War that helped to finance the The Rally for Congolese Democracy–Goma (RCD-Goma), a rebel movement based in Goma, Congo. According to an investigation report by the Congolese parliament, Bralima recognized the rebels as a local authority and paid taxes to the rebels in Bukavu.
However, even after the end of the war, remnants of RCD-Goma remained in the region and – like many other companies - Heineken continued to work with them which is still a point of criticism, especially of Heineken’s new CEO.