By Abala Deo
Beer company, Nile Breweries Limited (NBL), has launched a campaign against the sale and consumption of illicit alcohol in the country.
The campaign, coming in the wake of the recent death of a dozen people in Arua after drinking an illicit spirit, is aimed at creating public awareness about the dangers of illicit alcohol.
Illicit alcohol, accounting for 65% of the alcohol market in Uganda, is neither registered, nor certified nor does it pay taxes and is dangerous to the health of the consumers and undermines the economic development of the country.
“Alcohol was originally invented to create happiness. However, there are people that are giving it a bad name by not following the right rules and regulations in producing, selling and consuming it. There is a strong need to fight against illegal alcohol because of its adverse effects on the consumers’ health, society and the economy,’’ said Onapito Ekomoloit, the chairman of the Uganda Alcohol Industry Association (UAIA), but also the Legal and Corporate Affairs Director for NBL.
Citing to the 12 people who died after consumption of the illicit gin in West Nile, he insisted that such and incident further raises concern over the growing cases of consumption of illicit alcohol.
“Such deaths have happened over the years and make this campaign timely. It calls for all of us
to join the fight against this unscrupulous trade,” said Onapito.
In 2019, government banned sachet spirits as a way of eliminating unregulated alcohol from the market, Uganda has remained 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 which 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.
Nile Breweries Limited officials noted that a multi-sectoral approach in order to effectively combat the spread of illicit alcohol in Uganda needs to be done.
“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.
“This is an opportunity for us to reduce both trade and consumption of illicit alcohol and its effects on Ugandan jobs and livelihoods.”
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 for UAIA.
“We call upon all stakeholders to join the fight in their different capacities to completely defeat
this illegal trade,” he said.
Consequently, Nile Breweries and the partners will be running awareness messages under the ‘Mind Your
Drink’ banner to highlight the need to fight illicit alcohol.