Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives with Alvin Mbugua, UBL’s Managing Director
Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) Wednesday announced a partnership with the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) under the Raising the Bar program which will support bars to re-open safely & rebuild customer confidence. Raising the Bar is adapted from the Diageo $100 Million Raising the Bar Program that seeks to facilitate Diageo affiliates globally to support their local business partners and boost their capacity to reopen their businesses under the respective national guidelines. In Uganda, this program is being facilitated under the Uganda Breweries flagship Brand of Bell Lager which will inject a $1 Million fund towards the logistical and physical requirements of the program.
This program has been developed in partnership with the Infectious Disease Institute, which among other things, will be the driver to provide awareness training for bars, recreational facilities and similar establishment personnel in the requisite knowledge, social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures that are important in the prevention of COVID-19 transmission in establishments that carry Uganda Breweries Products.
Speaking at the event to demonstrate preparedness of the Brewery to support the Bar Reopening, UBL Managing Director Alvin Mbugua said that as a business, they applaud and support government’s preparedness and response efforts to COVID-19 this far. Mr. Mbugua added that the Raising the Bar initiative is the Brewery’s effort to work in tandem with the government to support efforts to raise the capacity of bars and enable them to adapt new practices to operate safely.
In March 2020, due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, Government of Uganda announced the closure of bars among other businesses to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country. Even as some restrictions have been slowly lifted, the closure of bars and other recreational businesses remains in effect, a thing which has had adverse impact to economic activity resulting in loss of revenue and devastated livelihoods of many Ugandans.
“Bars are an integral part of Uganda’s socio-economic ecosystem. They provide employment both directly and indirectly, contribute significantly to real estate through rental incomes, contribute to the agricultural sector through sourcing of food supplies and Raw Materials and contribute to trade and several auxiliary services (security, transport etc.).
COVID-19 has adversely impacted the different players within our value chain including farmers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and bartenders. Furthermore, the situation has been aggravated by the continued closure of the key retail outlets (bars) that stock and sell our products. An estimated number of One Million, Three Hundred Thousand (1,300,000) people formerly employed by this sector are now redundant and estimated revenue loss of UGX 2.5 trillion across the value chain is inevitable at the current rate of business operations.
Between March and May 2020, UBL sourced only 1,500 tonnes of barley from farmers out of an initial projection of 3,500 tonnes) and a lot more real and unrealized revenue across our value chain.
We hope that this initiative shows our leadership as Uganda Breweries to the relevant authorities and demonstrate to Government that we are committed to work together in the fight against this pandemic even as we seek for the re-opening of bars.
The Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Hon. Amelia Kyambadde speaking at this event also reiterated that Government is cognizant of the adverse impact that Bar closing has had on the livelihoods of Ugandans and the impact that it has had on government through missed taxes adding that her ministry was also aware that there might be an increase of intake on illicit alcohol arising from the closure of bars. “Our number one priority has been the health and safety of Ugandans, and so far, the government is doing a commendable job on that front giving us good optimism that the conversation on bar reopening should start happening featuring the relevant stakeholders,” she said.
Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), a leader in Health systems strengthening that has been at the forefront of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing support to the Ministry of Health to prevent, test and manage the outbreak. We believe that IDI is a great partner for Uganda Breweries on this project as it demonstrates to the Government that we are committed to work together in the fight against this pandemic even as we seek for the re-opening of bars.