Juniper Glass has received all regulatory approvals necessary to conclude the final investments in its US$70 million greenfield container glass factory in Debre Birhan, Ethiopia.

Juniper is working with global glass engineers and equipment suppliers, such as and Clear Performance, to build the factory, which is currently under construction.

It will have the capacity to produce 60,000 tonnes of glass annually, approximately 200 million glass bottles. Juniper has agreed with most major bottlers in Ethiopia to allocate the majority of this capacity to replace imports. Juniper has also evaluated opportunities with international customers to export bottles into neighbouring countries.

The plant is expected to be operational in 18 months.

The consortium behind Juniper includes South Africa’s Consol Glass, the largest glass packaging company in Sub-Saharan Africa, with manufacturing facilities in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.

"Ethiopia provides a dynamic environment for Africa's industrial growth," said CEO of Consol Glass, Mike Arnold, "and the Ethiopian market is gaining momentum. We have been evaluating opportunities in Ethiopia for a number of years and are excited about our partnership with Juniper and Roha", the Africa-focused investment company.

Brooks Washington, Juniper CEO said: "Our partnership with Consol, together with the support from the Development Bank of Ethiopia, will help us to realise our mission and meet the growing demand for high-quality glass bottles. Perhaps more significantly, it will contribute to Ethiopia's economic development by innovating, building human capacity and leveraging technology."

International agencies describe Ethiopia as a high-potential consumer market, with an expanding middle class and rapid urbanisation. As Africa's second most populated country with more than 90 million people, the beverage industry is poised to become a thriving sector of the economy.