Heineken in Africa

A Multinational Unleashed

February 2019 9781849049023 328pp,
8pp colour illus
May 2021 9781787384880 328pp,
8pp colour illus
EU Customers


For Heineken, ‘rising Africa’ is already a reality: the profits it extracts there are almost 50 per cent above the global average, and beer costs more in some African countries than it does in Europe. Heineken claims its presence boosts economic development on the continent. But is this true?

Investigative journalist Olivier van Beemen has spent years seeking the answer, and his conclusion is damning: Heineken has hardly benefited Africa at all. On the contrary, there are some shocking skeletons in its African closet: tax avoidance, sexual abuse, links to genocide and other human rights violations, high-level corruption, crushing competition from indigenous brewers, and collaboration with dictators and pitiless anti-government rebels.

Heineken in Africa caused a political and media furore on publication in the Netherlands, and was debated in their Parliament. It is an unmissable exposé of the havoc wreaked by a global giant seeking profit in the developing world.


‘[This] critical account of the brewer goes to the heart of doing business in challenging markets . . . [a] provocative book.’ — The Financial Times

‘Van Beemen, the author of this well-researched and provocative book, has uncovered an astounding counter-story to the corporate spin . . . an almost perfect case study of what can go wrong when globalisation is unleashed in markets with huge financial potential but without the regulatory frameworks present in more stable parts of the world.’ — Prospect

‘A brilliant and exhaustive investigation into a corporate giant’s claims of its positive actions on that continent.’ — Counterfire 

‘This book is an important window into how careless corporate behaviour can impede Africa’s development.’ — African Business

‘Disturbing . . . revelatory . . .  shocking.’ — The Budapest Times

‘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

‘One of the most readable, nuanced and critical accounts of “multinationals doing business in Africa” . . .Van Beemen uses his unagitated and meticulously researched style to the fullest advantage . . . an excellent book.’ — Aidnography Blog


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

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