By Abimbola Fashakin, Lagos
Guinness Nigeria plc said it has begun local production of affordable spirit drinks that were previously imported into the country.
This move, it said, was to reduce its spending on imports and increase export with a view to generating foreign exchange.
Chairman of the company’s Board of Director, Mr. Babatunde Savage, disclosed this recently at the inauguration of a N4.8bn spirit production line at its brewery in Edo State.
Savage said more jobs would be created in the state as raw materials like maize and sorghum to be used for the new line would be sourced locally.
Mr. Savage however said the company is doing its best to survive in an environment he described as tough.
Savage said the company would appreciate an enabling environment under which it can grow its business, increase the number of people employed directly and indirectly and create shared prosperity for all its stakeholders.
His words, “Today, we add to that strong heritage with the commissioning of our spirits production line in Nigeria – a first for Guinness Nigeria. What this means is that we are able to offer a wider variety of products to our consumers at a more affordable price point.
“Our commitment is that we are here to stay. We are committed to Nigeria and to our communities. Our gathering today is to celebrate another milestone in our journey towards building an enduring legacy in Nigeria and I daresay that by God’s grace, there will be many more gatherings of this nature in future.
President, Diageo Africa, Mr. John O’Keeffe, said the organisation will continue to invest in Nigeria because the county remains a very important market for the business.
He stated that the organization’s commitment to local sourcing has been further strengthened by the commissioning of the new plant which he said would produce previously imported spirits, using locally supplied raw materials
O’Keeffe expressed confidence that the company was on track to achieve 80% of local raw materials sourcing in Africa by 2020.
Governor Godwin Obaseki who inaugurated the new line said youths in the state would be empowered to grow the raw materials for the new line.
Obaseki noted that his administration has identified opportunities in the challenges poised by the current economic recession in the country.
His words, “As part of the outsourcing, we would like to partner with you or your suppliers to make land available, create incentives for production and get a lot of our young people to begin to cultivate some of the base products, like cassava and some of the grains you require for your production. In so doing, we will also create incentives to ensure that they are competitive in the prices they give to your company.”