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By Ruth Olurounbi
Disruption to supplies of alcohol in Nigeria due to coronavirus risks spurring the consumption of dangerous illicit brews.
On Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari announced a 14-day lockdown of the country’s commercial hub of Lagos, and Abuja, the nation’s capital. These are the two cities with the majority of confirmed coronavirus cases in Nigeria. He also locked down Ogun, an agrarian state which shares a boundary with Lagos, and restricted travel between states.
Although food and beverage companies are exempt from the lockdown, Nigerians expect distribution and consumption to be severely affected by orders from states to restrict movement and shut clubs and bars. Nigeria’s three main breweries are AB-InBev, which own International Breweries, Heineken, which controls Nigerian Breweries and Champion Breweries, and Diageo, which owns Guinness Nigeria. Shares in all of them have tumbled over the last month.
Sales of beer and other alcoholic beverages spiked in Abuja as the virus arrived and consumers stocked up in anticipation of a stay at home order from the federal government. Now, as many states including Oyo are enforcing nightly curfews, retailers say they see sales of alcohol declining significantly even if production continues.
That poses the danger that Nigerians will turn to dangerous bootleg alternatives.
Nigeria needs clear messaging on the dangers of drinking illicit alcohol as normal supply channels dry up.
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