Dar es Salaam — Africa's home-grown companies are aggressively investing in production as they seek to cash in on the continent's growing population, and dislodge the dominance of multinationals, tycoon Mohammed Dewji has said.
Speaking during a CNN Interview - the video of which was circulated on Twitter yesterday - Mr Mohammed Dewji, popularly known simply as 'MO,' said local beverage manufacturers like himself were currently giving multinationals a run for their money.
MeTL's beverage line manufactures a number of products including Mo Cola, Mo Xtra and Mo Embe among others which Mo says was one of the best businesses for Africa.
"Africa is big in fast moving consumer goods. Usually, in the past, multinationals - like Coca-Cola [and others] - used to dominate that space and now we are taking them head-on. We are manufacturing locally and creating our own brands," he told a forum that was hosted by Rally Madowo and Eleni Giokos.
During an interview that was conducted on the sidelines of the continent's participation in the Expo 2020 Dubai, Mo - whose Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania Limited (MeTL) employs 34,800 people in 11 countries across Africa - said the firm's beverage products were currently being traded regionally while the company was also setting up extended manufacturing facilities all across the region.
"Currently, we are exploring East and Central Africa which has a population of between 300 and 350 million people and, once we are successful, then we will expand all over Africa," he said.
Asked on how they were competing with multinationals, Mo said in the past, the conglomerates did not have enough competition but with time, African businesses have invested millions and millions of US dollars in technology and in distribution channels.
"We are also fighting them on pricing. People want a quality product at a good price. We are well priced and we have a great demand and now we are selling almost a billion bottles a year," said Mo.
The business was growing steadily and that the plan was to grow it further so that it can become a $1 billion business within five years.
Asked on the influence of China in Africa's effort to grow its manufacturing sector, Mo said the continent was in the past facing issues in terms of power and bureaucracy among others.
He, however, noted that - with a rise in population - Africa was geared up to creating a good investment policy for Foreign Direct Investment to come and invest and create jobs and stability. "They are now investing heavily in infrastructure, road network, rail network and power sector. I think we will become very competitive and Africa is a very good place," he said.
He heaped praise on President Samia Suluhu Hassan, saying she was undertaking policies that were changing Tanzania's investment climate, a complete shift from a stagnation of some past year that were precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The country may have stagnated on investment in the past but the fundamentals are very good. As far as business is concerned, Tanzania did not go into lockdowns so the country continued with manufacturing and thus manufacturers continued to thrive," he said, noting that with ongoing improvements, Tanzania's growth must soon rise to between six and seven percent.
On agriculture, Mo said his company has invested about $100 million in the sisal industry as it seeks to become the single largest sisal producer in the world by the end of 2022.
"We have this vision, and we are going to reach this target by next year," he said.