- Ethiopia has this week run out of Coca-Cola after its local bottler suspended operations saying it no longer had enough foreign currency to buy bottle tops. The closure of the factory on 12 March saw the factory sending home more than 1,000 employees on forced annual leave.
The East African Bottling Share Company said financial cash flow has forced the company to lay off workers in trying to regain its strength. "The company sent its workers on forced annual leave with full pay and the fate of the firm will be decided at a meeting of the board next week," the company said in the statement.
The company management had said that the closure would be "temporary", however, no one seems to know when production will resume, according to local reports.
The management said that although it tried to substitute imported raw materials with locally produced ones, it was not able to substitute all of its requirements. “Neither was the company permitted to receive loans of million of dollars from its major shareholder, SABCO, nor supply on credit for six months offered by Coca Cola International, as authorities from the central bank are reluctant to commit the country into debt,” a local news paper reported.
"The shortage is forcing us to temporarily stop the production of Coca Cola products," the company statement read, further stating that the company will use the time to maintain the machines.
The news of the closure of the plant was shocking to some of the shareholders and workers who were sent packing.
Local media reports said hotels and bars in the capital Addis Ababa ran out of the soft drinks late last week and began offering rival brand Pepsi to customers.
The top bottle manufacturers is reported to have been struggling to keep up with demand from bottling companies who can no longer afford to source the tops abroad.
The company’s Board of Directors, are scheduled to meet next week to discuss the crises, in addition to the regular agenda of reviewing the company’s performance in 2008.
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