UGANDA – Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL), subsidiary of East Africa Breweries Limited has officially rolled out its US$1 million Raising the Bar fund, aimed to support pubs and bars recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, once the government allows them to resume operations.

 The initiative has been adopted from EABL’s parent company Diageo US$100 million kitty, launched in July 2020 across its different markets.

In East Africa, the Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) got the lion’s share receiving US$3 million while Uganda Breweries Limited and Serengeti Breweries Limited of Tanzania each got US$1 million.

KBL rolled out its fund late last year in December, with hundreds of outlet operators registering for the aid, before the government of Kenya indefinitely suspended operations of bars in the capital Nairobi and four other counties and banned sale of alcohol in eateries as COVID-19 infections hit record levels.

In Uganda, the program is being facilitated through UBL’s flagship brand Bell Lager and will be undertaken in partnership with the Infectious Disease Institute, reports Nile Post.

“We hope that this initiative shows our leadership as Uganda Breweries to the relevant authorities, that we are committed to work together in the fight against this pandemic even as we seek for the re-opening of bars.”

Uganda Breweries Limited Managing Director – Alvin Mbugua

“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.

“However, Covid adversely impacted the different players within our value chain including farmers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and bartenders. This program will help them safely return to business once government allows,” UBL Managing Director Alvin Mbugua said.

It is estimated that over 1.3 million people employed by the sector are now redundant and an estimated revenue loss of Ush2.5 trillion (US$682 million) has been occasioned across the 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,” Mbugua said.

The targeted support includes purchasing equipment such as hygiene kits, permanent sanitizer dispenser units, hand sanitizers, masks, and protection screens for bars that cannot maintain the one metre social distance.

The fund will also enable the establishments obtain mobile bars and outdoor equipment as well as undertake partnerships with online reservations and cashless systems, developing contactless technology.

Through the programme, the outlet operators will be trained on the safety measures they need to take to protect themselves and their customers, upon resumption.

Speaking at the launch, Trade Minister, Amelia Kyambadde reiterated that the government is cognizant of the adverse effects that the closure of bars has had on the livelihoods of the population and economy.

“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,” Kyambadde said.

“I will endeavour, in my capacity as the chairperson of the Trade and Transport Committee of the COVID-19 Taskforce to engage my colleagues to deliberate upon the possibility of reopening the bars now that we are assured of the strict adherence of SOPs,” she added.

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