President Ernest Bai Koroma on Friday 4th April described Heineken as a friend of Sierra Leone; a friendship that is borne out of the fact that Heineken has been with Sierra Leone through thick and thin.
"The war hit Heineken badly, but its loyalty to our country has been unshakable. Heineken is very much part of the historical narrative of Sierra Leone; and we believe it will continue to be part of the narrative of the rise of Sierra Leone," he said.
President Koroma made this statement during his visit to the Headquarter of the company in Amsterdam, Holland. He also noted that a friend of a country acts in concert with a country's aspirations. "Our aspirations for foreign direct investment saw Heineken investing over 10 Million Euros in the last four years."
He further disclosed that Sierra Leone's aspirations for increased local content in production activities saw Heineken sourcing 40% of its raw materials locally, and added "We applaud your ambition to increase it to 60% by 2020."
Siep Hiemstra, Regional President Africa and Middle-East in his welcome statement said Heineken is one of the major international brewers and its Heineken beer is the only beer brand sold in almost all countries all over the world. Heineken is also an Africa Brewer, he claimed. Why is this so? He asked rhetorically.
"We started to export our beer in Africa in 1990. Since then we have been developing our business and had never left Africa, including during the difficult period of time. In Sierra Leone, we produced our first beer in 1962 and since then we are still there," he explained.
Siep Hiemstra also maintained that Heineken has an extensive footprint all across the continent, including 20 countries and 55 plants. "As you know, one out of these is located in Freetown."
According to the Heineken Regional President for Africa and Middle East, Africa is a major part of the company's overall business as it provides 14.5% of its revenue/14.1% of beer volumes, saying that the continent is really moving fast. "Sierra Leone grew its GDP in 2013 by 13.1%, thanks to your commitment to drive and implement successfully your agenda for prosperity," he commended President Koroma.
"We are investing massively in Africa: 2.2 Billion Euros since 2005. Over the last four years we also invested 10.3 Million Euros in Sierra Leone. We are market leaders in 13 African countries, including Sierra Leone."
Stay tuned for more on this and other updates on President Koroma's trip to the Benelux which will officially end today.
By State House Communications Unit