SABMiller to close its South Sudan operation due to lack of foreign exchange

SABMiller announced on Friday that it will close its South Sudanese operation in March due to shortage of foreign exchange to buy raw materials.

Traders and ordinary South Sudanese have struggled to find dollars to pay for basic imports and other essentials as a conflict that started in December 2013 has taking its toll, disrupting oil production as world oil prices fall.

SABMiller, which was acquired by AB InBev last year, said in a statement that shutting its South Sudanese operation will affect most of its 237 employees, but did not elaborate, that it may indirectly affect thousands of individuals and businesses.

The company’s South Sudan operation was likely to be used to distribute beverages imported from Uganda, it said.

In Mid-December, South Sudan abandoned its official fixed exchange rate for a floating rate. The country’s Central bank had held onto a fixed official exchange rate of 2.95 South Sudanese pound per dollar even as the currency weakened on the unofficial market after conflict erupted in December 2013. The Central bank quoted the pound on Friday at about 18.70.

Further compounding the situation, inflation rose 109.9 per cent year-on-year in December from 73.6 per cent in November, mainly due to skyrocketing food prices, according to the country’s Statistics office.

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