Last Call for South Sudan's Only Beer Factory Nile Breweries

Last Call for South Sudan's Only Beer Factory

Parent company SABMiller said a shortage of foreign currency has left the brewery, which manufactures White Bull and Nile Special, unable to buy raw materials for beer-making.

LONDON--British brewer SABMiller said Friday it will close the only beer factory in South Sudan due to an acute shortage of foreign currency in the world's youngest country.

"There is currently an acute shortage of access to foreign exchange in South Sudan which means that our business there, South Sudan Beverages Limited, has been unable to buy raw materials," it said in a statement.

"As a result, SSBL has had to take the difficult decision to start preparing to wind down production operations once its existing inventory of ingredients runs out.

"Based on existing stock levels, the last brew is expected to be bottled and leave the brewery in March."

The plant in the capital Juba employs 237 people, while thousands of other individuals and related businesses could also be affected, SABMiller warned.

South Sudan's central bank unpegged the national currency from the dollar on December 15, freeing it to trade at black market prices several times the official rate amid soaring inflation caused by two years of civil war.

The overvalued currency was de facto devalued by around 84%.

"We had large South Sudan pound deposits in the bank at the time the devaluation was announced," SSBL managing director Carlos Gomes told Bloomberg News.

"The end result is that we incurred a loss of tens of millions of dollars, placing SSBL in an even worse position than it was."

Since opening in 2009, the brewery has been producing brands including White Bull and Nile Special.

SABMiller said it was likely to use the site in the capital Juba as a depot for distributing beverages imported from southern neighbor Uganda.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, but civil war erupted in December 2013.

The war, economic collapse and a dearth of foreign currency have had a major impact on the landlocked nation, which depends on costly imports for some of the most basic goods, with food and fuel prices rocketing in recent months.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2016

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