AFRICANS buy 36 billion bottles of Coke a year. Because the price is set so low—around 20-30 American cents, less than the price of the average newspaper—and because sales are so minutely analysed by Coca-Cola, the Coke bottle may be one of the continent’s best trackers of stability and prosperity.
In other words, Coca-Cola sells sugar water to Africans for 20 cents and still manages to make a profit. Imagine how much profit is made from selling it in Europe for up to €2.00 a bottle.
Coca-Cola says it is the largest private-sector employer in Africa. Its system of distribution, which moves the sugary drink from bottling plants deep into slums and the bush a few crates at a time, may employ around 1m Africans. A study at the University of South Carolina suggested that 1% of South Africa’s economy was tied up, one way or another, in the distribution and sale of Coke.