Aims: To describe the penetration and expansion of the global alcohol industry into the African region, as a context for exploring the implications for public health.
Methods: Source materials for this study came primarily from market research and the business press. This was supplemented by industry sources (from websites, company annual reports), World Health Organization reports and the scientific literature.
Results: Drinking in Africa is characterized by high rates of abstention and a high prevalence of heavy episodic consumption among those who drink. Much of the region is currently experiencing a rapid rise in consumption. Rising populations and income and the rapid pace of urbanization make Africa very attractive to the global alcohol industry, and industry leaders have identified Africa as a key area for growth. The shift from collaboration to competition in Africa among the global alcohol companies has prompted increasing alcohol production, promotion, new product development, pricing schemes and stakeholder lobbying.
Conclusions: Beer consumption has increased across most of the continent, and global brewers view themselves as legitimate players at the alcohol policy table. Weak alcohol policy environments may be compromised further in terms of public health protections by alcohol industry opposition to effective measures such as marketing regulations, availability controls and taxation.
Keywords: Africa; alcohol; alcohol policies; globalization; multi-nationals; urbanization.
© 2014 Society for the Study of Addiction.