SABMiller Moves to Net African Market with Nigeria the Focus
As African consumers steadily move out of informal or illicit alcohol drinking habits to a more formalised category, companies like SABMiller are casting their nets deeper for a good catch of this market.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV this week, SABMiller Managing Director Mark Bowman said Africa had a confluence of good gross domestic product growth of five to six percent and a young population entering legal drinking age.
Like other companies venturing into countries elsewhere on the continent, finding a market can be a challenge. Bowman agreed that most of the major players were already established, making it more difficult to find areas to invest further. In Nigeria, SABMiller would face strong competition from multinational players including Diageo, Heineken and Castel.
According to KPMG’s “Fast-moving consumer goods in Africa” report, beer companies are among the largest listed companies on continental stock exchanges. In Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries and Guinness Niger have market capitalisation of about $6.7 billion (R71.6bn) and $1.7bn, respectively.
Bowman said African consumers were gravitating towards beer as a desirable product: “That’s good for our business, that’s good for government in the sense that this brings them into the tax net and obviously that’s good for the development of our supply chains, so hopefully we can contribute to some of the development of the economy,” he said.
SABMiller freely admits money is the motivation for entering these markets, and set a double-digit dollar earnings growth target.
The company views Nigeria as its market of most potential, with a population near 170 million people, and SABMiller has recently invested in three breweries in the country, reporting that business is beginning to take shape in this location.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”