IVORY COAST – Heineken said it aims to double its beer production in Ivory Coast by next year as it bids to compete with French company Castel in a booming market.

Beer consumption in Africa’s fastest growing economy has increased since the end of a decade-long political crisis in 2011, and Castel dominates sales with its popular Castel, Flag and Solibra Bock brands.

By doubling the capacity of the Brassivoire brewery that opened last year near the commercial capital Abidjan, Heineken, the world’s second-largest beer producer, hopes to take a greater share.

“We will invest 20 billion CFA francs ($35.49 million) by the end of the year…to double our capacity,” said Alexander Koch, general manager of the brewery.

“We had planned to make this investment between 2018 and 2019. But with the strong demand, we are doing it before the end of the year,” he said.

Total investment in the brewery is expected to hit 100 billion CFA francs.

This year’s investment will increase beer production to 160 million litres annually by next year, more than half Ivory Coast’s 270-million litre consumption, most of which is currently supplied by privately-owned Castel from its Solibra brewery in Abidjan.

The Dutch brewer has operations in 10 other African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.