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The Soufflet Group recently built a new malt house in Addis Ababa. The project, which aims to serve the local beer market, was managed from start to finish by a consortium comprising Actemium Maroc and Actemium Vitry Energie & Environnement. It seeks to boost local employment while complying with environmental requirements.

The east African country of Ethiopia offers ideal conditions for cultivating barley, and indeed is the largest producer of the crop. Some major brewing companies have been establishing a foothold in the country in recent years with the aim of developing projects there. One such company is the Soufflet Group which launched the construction of a new malt house in the Bole Lemi II industrial park located in the outskirts of Addis Ababa.

The French agri-food group is looking to ensure 100% local production in what is a fast-growing market (the beer industry is expanding by 15% each year in Ethiopia which is home to more than 100 million people), where local supply is not fully keeping up with demand (in 2018 the sector imported €50 million worth of malt).

The challenge was to ensure that the subcontractors working on site complied with environmental requirements.”

Built on 10 hectares of land, the new plant, which came on stream in May 2021 after two years of works, is strategically located near barley crops. With its cutting edge infrastructure, the malt house aims to produce 60,000 tonnes in its first year and eventually wants to achieve a production capacity of 110,000 tonnes per year.

This state-of-the-art plant was built with the support of Actemium Maroc and Actemium Vitry Energie & Environnement, two VINCI Energies business units specialising in industrial processes, which were appointed to carry out all of the design work as well as the supply, assembly and commissioning of the electrical packages, the utilities package and the mechanical aspects.

“The mechanical aspects required particular expertise to perform highly delicate operations like installing cooling fans, oil burners and glass tubing,” says Mohammed El Hamdani, manager of the Actemium International Maroc business unit. “The Actemium Maroc team also carried out a specific operation for the utilities package, involving cleaning the 80 bar high pressure network.”

Complex food process

This first contract to be won by Actemium in Ethiopia was the company’s first experience of a complex food process using specific environmentally-friendly facilities. “The challenge we faced in this respect was to ensure that the subcontractors working on site complied with environmental requirements,” stresses El Hamdani. Actemium also had other challenges to overcome: “On a technical level, we had to respond to requests for changes and additions made by the client and propose appropriate solutions in terms of quality and above all completion time.”

Actemium is currently awaiting phase 2 of the plant, which will enable it to contribute to the development of a business line that already employs some 100 people and that has generated more than 200 indirect jobs. These are particularly in rural areas, and involve providing quality control for the barley and handling. During the 2020-2021 season, 70% of the barley was harvested locally by the Soufflet Group, which aims to quickly ensure that 100% of its needs are covered by Ethiopian farmers.