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Ethiopian Beer on Rise, With British Help

Beer bottles are pictured at the processing line of the newly inaugurated Dashen brewery plant in Debre Birhan town northeast of Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa Nov. 15, 2015.

An Ethiopian beer company has partnered with two British firms to open a new brewery to expand its production and take advantage of a growing market in the east African nation.

Ethiopia's Dashen Brewery has launched the new facility in Debre Birhan, as part of a partnership with Britain-based companies Vasari Global and Duet Group, and the Ethiopian TIRET Group. Dashen is one of the largest brewing companies in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn presided at the opening ceremony, saying the brewery is an example of his country's international economic development capabilities.

"Duet, Vasari, and Tiret have shown that companies from the United Kingdom and Ethiopia can jointly venture for mutual prosperity and this best practice has to be scaled up," Desalegn said.

The brewing partners say Ethiopians’ demand for beer shows there a growing middle class in the country and a good sign of Ethiopia's economic health.

They believe there is rapidly growing demand for beer in the country as well a healthy export market. The owners expect the new brewery will employ several hundred people.

Combined with Dashen's existing brewery in Gonder in northwest Ethiopia, the new plant means Dashen's beer production in Ethiopia will have tripled since 2012.

Ethiopia has rapidly opened up its beverage sector to international investment, but has moved more cautiously in other industries. Telecoms remain in state hands while banks and retail businesses are off limits to foreigners.