SABMiller is to expand further in Africa by building a brewery in Namibia and buying the non-alcoholic Maheu drinks business of Trade Kings Ltd in Zambia.

SABMiller said today (8 September) that Namibia's Government has granted it a licence to brew and bottle beer in the country.

The UK-listed brewer added that its subsidiary in Zambia, Heinrich's Syndicate, is to buy the Maheu drinks business of domestic firm Trade Kings for US$19.25m cash.

The moves are the latest step in SABMiller's Africa expansion plan, which is set to include four new breweries across the continent in calendar 2009.

Following the licence deal, the group will build a new brewery in Namibia, although the site for this is yet to be confirmed and construction could take up to 24 months.

Namibia has a per capita beer consumption of 40 litres, compared to an average of five litres across Africa and around 56 litres in South Africa, an SABMiller spokesperson told just-drinks.

SABMiller has 22% market share in Namibia, where it currently imports beers through subsidiary group Castle Brewing Namibia, and the spokesperson said that the firm is keen to take on the dominance of Heineken and Diageo, which have a minority stake in the country's leading brewer, Namibian Breweries Ltd.

Cobus Bruwer, managing director of Castle Brewing Namibia, said: "The Namibian Government's decision to grant us this licence is a milestone, as we have sought brewing rights in Namibia for the past decade.  Once constructed, the development of a local plant will enable us to make our brands available in returnable bottles. When the plant is operational, we expect to contribute significantly to the Namibian economy."

SABMiller brands in Namibia include Castle Lager, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Carling Black Label. 

In Zambia, the acquisition of Trade Kings' Maheu business shows SABMiller's commitment to soft drinks, as well as to beer, in Africa, the company spokesperson said.

"The acquisition seeks to further strengthen SABMiller Africa's objective of expanding the price range of both its alcoholic and non-alcoholic brand portfolios across the continent," said the firm, adding that the deal is subject to approval by regulatory authorities.

SABMiller already owns Zambian Breweries Group, the largest clear beer and soft drinks business in the country.