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Kenya: Closing time

By Clar Ni Chonghaile in Nairobi
Posted on Monday, 7 March 2011 16:35

Hotel and bar owners fear Kenya’s new drinking laws could send tourists elsewhere.

In the home of nyama choma (roast meat) washed down with a cool Tusker beer, a new law restricting drinking hours has many detractors.

Since November, Kenya’s Alcoholic Drinks Control Act has prohibited the sale of alcohol in bars before 2pm at weekends and 5pm on weekdays. The law will also legalise homemade brews, which are responsible for killing hundreds, and subject them to strict production controls.

In mid-January, the law was temporarily suspended after a challenge from a group of bar owners, but a High Court judge reinstated it, saying they had not proved their case. The law was meant to stop workers drinking during working hours, the judge said.

Hotel and bar owners fear the act will send tourists elsewhere. “Tanzania is our competitor in tourism. Do they have this kind of law?” asks Sam Ikwaye, chief executive of the Pubs, Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya.

Kenya is not alone in cracking down. A new by-law in Cape Town may also restrict drinking hours, although it is being challenged in court. Zimbabwe is also mulling a tougher national alcohol policy.

This article was first published in the March 2011 edition of The Africa Report magazine.