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New alcohol industry association seeks to save the day

STAFF WRITER
Botswana Beverage Association, a new alcohol industry advocacy body is on a mission to help resuscitate the struggling sector PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Botswana Beverage Association, a new alcohol industry advocacy body is on a mission to help resuscitate the struggling sector which has been hard hit by the COVID 19 pandemic, tight regulation and other economic related factors.

According to chairman, Peter Noke, the main objective of the Association is to work closely with government and ensure that all decisions are in the best interests of all, and mostly importantly those in the lower end of the market.

Noke explained that, as a new association, they are well aware of challenges that are currently affecting the sector and the immediate task is to ensure they are addressed. 

“We need to speak for ourselves.

The alcohol sector is a very important sector of our economy which cannot operate without any meaningful representation.

Our main immediate task is to ensure that we engage with government on how best the sector can operate even during harsh times such as  COVID 19.

We have a strong opinion that, as the sector we need to convince government that self-regulation will go a long way to ensure that we become sustainable and profitable. We are of the view that,while government has come up with regulations, sometimes them are not fully implemented due to limited resources on the part of law enforcement agencies.

That is where as the sector we need to come in the form of self-regulation,” Noke further said.

He was quick to point out that they have a strong working relationship with Botswana Alcohol Industry Association.

However, he made it clear that their target is to protect the interests of indigenous players in the market which include among others, bars, bottles stores, night clubs and restaurants.

For his part, vice chairman, Kealeboga Bogatsu stated that as an association, they will also be going all

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out to ensure that consumers and retailers get all the benefits which are being given to wholesalers.

“As we speak today, our members are not getting the full benefits that are being accorded to wholesalers by producers.

There is inconsistency in terms of pricing by some of our wholesalers.

The current arrangement of trading hours also does not favor the mainstream since establishments are open when most customers are at work.  Only wholesalers and producers benefit since they can move their stock whilst the ordinary retailer suffers. We need to address this issue as a matter of urgency.

We also need to ensure that members welfare will be protected including human capital and thus we plan to keep our members abreast and up to date throughout COVID-19, as it is our mandate to protect businesses from liquidation ” Bogatsu said. 

The association which was registered recently is backed by a membership of over 200.

The organisation also seeks to push the government to extend the relief fund to members especially night clubs owners who have not been operating since April 2020.

“We are happy that our proposal to have night clubs not pays license renewal fees have been acceded to,” Bogatsu said, adding that, the closure of night clubs has had disastrous impact, leading to loss of hundreds of jobs.

Noke, explained that, there is need to resuscitate the sector which employs thousands of people directly and indirectly. 

Noke said they are working hard to recruit new members amid COVID-19 which has restricted movements and business operations in general.



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