Atlas' 100% owned subsidiary, East Africa Packaging Holdings ('EAPH'), is building a glass bottle manufacturing facility 45km north of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

The plant will have the capacity to produce 105 million, 330ml bottles per annum.

Named the 'Chancho Project’, Atlas has commenced ground clearing at the site, and held a ceremony on February 15th to commemorate the event.

Commissioning of the facility has been scheduled for 2018, with full production targeted for early 2019.

Levelling of the 5.5 acre Chancho Project site has begun and the topsoil has been stripped.

The Chancho Project site is located in an established industrial area that is serviced by excellent road infrastructure as well as power.

Preliminary assessments of potential sources and studies of local mining operations carried out confirm appropriate grades of silica sand and limestone are available in deposits 30km away from the site.

An initial pre-feasibility study was completed at the Chancho Project and returned positive results.

A full feasibility study is now being conducted in tandem with local and international engineering consultants, which is close to completion.

The total capital expenditure is estimated at US$42 million, to be funded on a staged basis by a mixture of debt from local development banks, other debt providers, industrial partners and equity.

For the last five years, due to increased consumer demand and a young demographic, Ethiopia has been attracting investment from international beverage companies, with more than $500 million invested to date.

Beer production has been growing at a CAGR of 14.3% over the last 14 years, with an additional 47% capacity currently under construction.

The demand for glass bottles is largely unmet by domestic production and is at present mainly satisfied by expensive imports.

Ethiopia represents one of the fastest growing economies in the world, as a result of increased income, population growth, well-managed infrastructure spending and stable government policies.

Chief Executive of Atlas, Carl Esprey (pictured second from left) said: "The project has been an excellent acquisition for us, giving us a foothold in the burgeoning Ethiopian consumer market and positioning us at the forefront of advancements in the East African manufacturing sector.

"We are delighted with the progress that has been made so far, and the ground breaking ceremony marks another step in our transition into exciting new territory.

"We can now look forward to commencing development of the project site over the coming year and updating the market on our progress in due course."