Heineken in Africa

A Multinational Unleashed

Olivier van Beemen

‘We’ve never had very critical books written about Heineken, and we don’t like it. It has proved challenging, and led to much soul-searching in the company.’ — Jean-François van Boxmeer, CEO, Heineken

Bibliographic Details
Heineken in Africa Hardback
February 2019£20.00
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For Heineken, ‘rising Africa’ doesn’t just represent a promising future. The continent has proved highly lucrative for decades, with profits almost 50 per cent higher than the global average. In some African countries, beer costs more than it does in Europe. According to the Dutch brewer, this is not only good news for shareholders, but also for the economic development of the countries in Africa where it operates. But is it?

After three years of research and hundreds of interviews, Olivier van Beemen concludes that Heineken’s presence has hardly benefited the continent at all, and may in fact be rather harmful. He tells the story of how Heineken faced considerable competition from indigenous beer brewing, which it tried to crush. He shows how Heineken collaborates with dictators, authoritarian governments and a convicted war criminal; how it’s using a mysterious Belgian operating company to avoid tax; and how the company is linked to human rights violations and high-level corruption.

An unmissable book for anyone interested in how the world’s biggest companies operate in the developing world.


Olivier van Beemen is a Dutch investigative journalist specialising in Africa. This is his first book.


‘The unauthorised story of a beer giant’s African saga. … Van Beemen precisely and rigorously ticks off Heineken’s excesses and tribulations in Africa. … For a long time Heineken’s management refused to meet the journalist, before changing their minds and giving him interviews almost two years after the book first appeared, which offer a valuable counterpoint and make this remarkable survey all the more balanced.’ — Le Monde