Beer in Africa
A multinational unleashed
How one of the world’s biggest companies operates in the developing world
For Heineken, ‘rising Africa’ doesn’t just represent a promising future. The continent has proved highly lucrative for decades, with profits almost 50 per cent higher than the global average. In some African countries beer costs more than it does in Europe. According to the Dutch brewer, this is not only good news for shareholders, but also for the economic development of the countries in Africa where it operates. But should we believe them?
After three years of research and hundreds of interviews, Olivier van Beemen concludes that Heineken’s presence has hardly benefited the continent at all, and may in fact be rather harmful. He tells the story of how Heineken faced considerable competition from indigenous beer brewing, which it tried to crush. He shows how Heineken collaborates with dictators, authoritarian governments and a convicted war criminal; how it’s using a mysterious Belgian operating company to avoid tax; and how the company is linked to human rights violations and high-level corruption.
Beer in Africa is a critical case study about the business practices of the Dutch brewer in Africa. The revelations in the book have led to parliamentary questions being asked in both the Dutch and the European Parliament, as well as a documentary on Dutch television. Leading commentators have written columns about it and the book made headlines in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Burundi.