Leading Beer makers Nile Breweries Ltd (NBL) ( @NBLUganda) in Uganda on Thursday through
@uaia_ug launched a new campaign aimed at eliminating the production, sale, and consumption of illicit alcohol. #WhisperEyeNews #UgandaNews
This comes after medical personnel in Arua confirmed the death of a dozen people after drinking an illicit spirit.
About 64.7% of all alcohol on the Ugandan market is said to be illicit according to the 2021 Euromonitor Report, accounting for over a 1.5million hectoliters. This is a 9% increase from the 2017 figures.
Illicit alcohol is neither registered nor certified nor does it pay taxes.
As such, NBL partnership with the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association (UAIA), Uganda Bureau of Standards (UNBS), Uganda Police, and the Uganda Revenue Authority(URA), today launched a campaign, called ‘Mind Your Drink’, to combat illicit alcohol production and consumption.
Speaking at the launch Onapito Ekomoloit, the Chairman of the UAIA and also Legal and Corporate Affairs Director NBL said the campaign is not intended to put some people out of business but to “level the playing field.”
Unfortunately, some people in the country have decided to give alcohol a bad name, by not producing it the way it is supposed to be done and we have ended up with tragedies like this,” he said.
“We at Nile Breweries believe in fair competition; we didn’t want other alcohol businesses out of the market but we want them to be within a leveled playing field”
“We don’t want to simply lament but to come up with solutions to ensure the safety of alcohol consumers and protection of our economy.
Despite the government banning sachet spirits in June 2019, as one way of eliminating unregulated alcohol from the market, Uganda remains a hotspot for its trade and consumption.
The illicit alcoholic drinks are now packaged in PET bottles, recycled mineral water bottles, and other types of packaging and are sold openly countrywide.
According to the 2021 Euromonitor International report, illicit alcohol consumption increased to 64.7% in Uganda.
The harsh economic conditions and the down-trading impact of Covid-19 have resulted in the formal beer industry losing market share down to 35.5%, raising concerns over government tax revenues, grain farmers’ market, and the licit industry jobs.
NBL recommends a multi-sectoral approach in order to effectively combat the spread of illicit alcohol in Uganda.
“Engaging different stakeholders in this campaign will strengthen the message we want to send out on dangers of illicit alcohol, especially to the health of consumers,” said Clare Asiimwe, the Sustainability Manager at NBL said while presenting the report on illicit alcohol.
“It is an excellent opportunity for us to reduce both trade and consumption of illicit alcohol and its effects on Ugandan jobs and livelihoods,” she said.
Since its establishment in 2006, Uganda Alcohol Industry Association has played a role in bringing together the alcoholic beverage producers in Uganda to promote responsible consumption and marketing of alcoholic beverages.
“As UAIA, our main focus has always been on promoting responsible drinking and protecting the alcohol industry from unfair competition. We believe that this campaign will encourage people to think about themselves and those closest to them and make the right decision to never purchase or consume illicit alcoholic beverages, “said M.S Reddy, the Treasurer of UAIA.
“We call upon all stakeholders to join the fight in their different capacities to completely defeat this illegal trade,” he said.
Following a dialogue by key stakeholders to formulate actions on how to fight illicit alcohol collectively, NBL and all the partners will be running awareness messages under the ‘Mind Your Drink’ banner.