Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller branded beers. Picture: BLOOMBERG/HALDEN KROG
Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller branded beers. Picture: BLOOMBERG/HALDEN KROG

JUBA — SABMiller will close its brewery in South Sudan in March due to difficulties in obtaining foreign exchange to buy raw materials, the company said on Friday.

Traders and ordinary South Sudanese have struggled to secure dollars to pay for even basic imports or other essential items, as conflict that erupted in December 2013 has cut oil production and as global crude prices have slid.

SABMiller, which was bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev last year, said in a statement that mothballing its South Sudan business would affect most of its 237 employees, and indirectly hit 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 and moved to a floating rate.

The central bank had held onto a fixed official rate of 2.95 South Sudanese pounds 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 worsening the situation, inflation shot up to 109.9% year-on-year in December from 73.6% in November, mainly due to surging food prices, according to data from the statistics office.

Reuters