Unilever, the global food and beverage company with operations across Africa, said it is “playing the long game” on the continent. The company’s global Chief Executive Officer, Alan Jope, told CNBC Africa that Unilever’s commitment is strong, driven mainly by the opportunities it sees in places like South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, and more.
The company also has an operation in Nigeria, even though performance so far this year by Unilever Nigeria Plc has been mostly underwhelming. Perhaps this explains why Jope focused on other markets like South Africa and Ghana during the interview with CNBC Africa’s Godfrey Mutizwa.
“Unilever is a 90-year old business and we think of our plan in ten and hundred-year increments. And so, we are playing the long game in Africa. As you know only too well, the demographic dividend of Africa has yet to play out. It’s a young population and there’s going to be continued population growth and growing economic activity.
“We see a very bright future for Africa. In fact, I can tell you South Africa is one of Unilever’s biggest and best companies around the world. And in particular, at the moment places in east Africa and North-East Africa are some of the fastest-growing parts of Unilever.”
In Nigeria, Unilever operates in an FMCG market that is dominated by other big names like Nestle Nigeria Plc and Cadbury Nigeria Plc. The stiff competition this entails, coupled with other factors such as high operating costs and a difficult economy, caused the company to underperform during the first three quarters of the year.