Sierra Leone Brewery (SLBL), a subsidiary of Heineken Holding NV, which is operating a brewery in Freetown/Sierra Leone, announced its plans to double the annual capacity to meet growing demand for beer in the West-African country. The expansion project includes a brew house upgrade, and installation of seven cylindrical-conical fermentation tanks.
“The current investment in tanks is another large commitment of Sierra Leone Brewery Limited in Sierra Leone. The timing of this expansion once installed, should allow us to fulfil any potential increase in sales as a result of the implementation of the Finance Act 2016, which would also create more jobs for Sierra Leone and our business partners including sorghum farmers,” said Daaf van Tilburg, who is since January 2017 managing director of SLBL. Van Tilburg took over office from long-standing MD Alphonse Willy M. Ngana, who has recently been transferred to the Africa Middle East Regional Office in Holland.
“Receiving this equipment in the brewery marks an exciting new chapter in our journey here in Sierra Leone as we look ahead to the next five years and beyond. Sierra Leone is a country of enormous opportunity. Sierra Leone Brewery Limited and Heineken commitment here is absolute. We will continue to invest in the long-term growth of our brands, our people and the communities in which we operate, for the benefit of all,” van Tilburg said.
In 2015 the brewery invested in CO2 equipment and a cooling plant and last year further investments were made in a waste water treatment plant and mash filter equipment to enable the use of more sorghum in the production process.
This enabled SLBL in December 2016 to launch Salone Beer, a new beer 100% made with sorghum from Sierra Leone. Sorghum is a viable commercial crop being grown all over the country and creating a reliable source of income to over 12,000 farming families. To support the local growth of sorghum, SLBL introduced the Community Revenue Enhancement through Agricultural Technology Extension (CREATE) Project, which is supported and fully funded until 2019 by Heineken International, the Dutch Government, European Cooperative for Rural Development (EUCORD) and Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI).
The new product is complementing the established brand Star Lager Beer, an iconic brand already launched in 1962, which has since then become one of the symbols of Sierra Leone.
SLBL was incorporated in 1961 just after Sierra Leone’s independence from the United Kingdom. Production commenced in 1962. Since its inception Heineken International had been in control of the technical side of the business. When some of the initial local shareholders sold out their interests in the business, Heineken together with Diageo (Guinness) became shareholders. As of June 23, 2008, Sierra Leone Brewery Limited operates as a subsidiary of Heineken Holding NV. after Heineken became majority shareholder of SLBL.
The brewery has seen many ups and downs in the last 56 years: During the 1997 military coup the brewing stopped for six months after the brewery was ransacked, and on the 6 January 1999 the rebel forces looted the brewery stopping production for one and a half years. In 2014 Sierra Leone and its economy was hardly hit by an Ebola virus epidemic and only slowly recovered afterwards.