A Dutch journalist, Olivier van Beemen, who uncovered Heineken’s practices in Africa in his investigative book titled ‘Heineken in Africa: Multinational Unleashed,’ has reacted to a claim that his work paints a bad image of Africa.
During an evening of book reading and signing in Abuja, Beemen explained why he wrote the book.
He said his report gave a portrait of multinationals (using Heineken as a case study) that came with false claim of helping Africa to ‘develop’ but continually damage it to a lesser level than it was before.
“It has never been my purpose to paint Africa ‘black’ in the book. Issues such as sexual abuse, corruption, tax evasion, discussed in the book, are commonplace on the global stage,” he said.
He noted that his interest to dig about Heineken’s corruption practices in Africa was piqued when the beer company lied about having no link with Ben Ali, a businessman with ties to former Tunisian dictator, who had entered partnership with the company in secret.
The journalist said he grew more interested when the Chief Executive Officer of Heineken, Jean-François van Boxmeer, once said that using women in bars to promote sales was no longer in business in Europe but profitable in Africa.
As a Dutch, he said he felt the need more to look deeply into the Dutch company that paraded itself as a ‘developer partner’ to Africa.
“It says its development is good for the development of Africa too. But instead of being an impact maker, we realise it is really holding Africa back with menaces that come from its brand enlargement- using women to boost sales, producing alcohol in larger size than those of the West.
“It makes people to take more and more alcohol and we know its effect it generate is to create violence,” he said.
He noted that while Heineken had strong links with African governments “and continually made use of women in bars for promotion of sales to oust out few local competitors”, it would be important for governments to see the image behind Heineken’s deceptive methods.