The liquor industry in South Africa is poised to improve black empowerment in the sector by early next year. SABMiller, the country's biggest brewer, said yesterday (27 October) that the sector hopes to complete a charter on upping the profile of blacks in the industry within the next few months.

"I hope that we will finish discussions on the liquor sector charter by the first couple of months of next year," Tony van Kralingen, head of SABMiller's South African operations, told reporters in Johannesburg.

He said the main players in the liquor industry were discussing the terms of the charter amongst themselves. "We've been working on it for some time," he said.

Under new legislation governing South Africa's liquor industry, companies must apply by early next month to convert existing licences into new liquor manufacturers' and distributors' licences.

That conversion process is automatic, but a year after that they must apply for renewal of those licences from the department of trade and industry, which will take into account their progress on black empowerment targets, meaning the fledgling sector charter should be finished by then.
Van Kralingen said the charter would provide a standard against which the trade and industry department could assess applications for licences in future.