south africa

Does South Africa have a drinking problem? – Here are the hard facts

Swisher Post - 01.06.2020

South Africa ranks third in alcohol consumption data for 2019. This could answer why #liquorshops are flooded on the first day of #level3lockdown

It’s no surprise that South Africa is buzzing right now. Monday 1 June marks the first day of Level 3 lockdown, an eased phase-in of the economy which sees sectors normally deemed non-essential under stricter regulations reopen, including liquor outlets.

Were liquor sales reopened prematurely?

There is no scientific basis which supports the reintroduction of liquor sales amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Alcohol does not contribute positively towards our health yet, the National Command Council (NCC), led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, saw it necessary to order the return of liquor retail.

In their defence, something had to be done to restore a sense of euphoria in a panicked country.

Already, streets all across the nine provinces, are flooded with long-stretching queues of people waiting to spend money on booze at liquor stores.

Whether this will come back to bite Ramaphosa and his council in the buttocks remains to be seen. For now, the only thing that occupies Mzansi is the temperature of that beer.

Under the Level 3 regulations, businesses with a liquor licence are allowed to sell alcohol between 09:00 and 17:00 from Monday to Thursday.

This does not mean that people can gather in large groups. Alcohol consumption is limited to one’s residence and those found drinking in public or driving under the influence will face the full might of the law.

Where does South Africa rank in Africa’s alcohol consumption?

The first day of Level 3 has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that South Africa has a drinking problem and fortunately, the data is there to substantiate this claim.

According to Statista’s Consumption of alcohol per capita in Africa in 2019 report, South Africa ranks as the third highest-ranking country in Africa for its alcohol consumption per capita rate.

Based on 2019’s consumption data, Nigeria came in at first place with an average of 13 litres of alcohol consumed per person. The Kingdom of Eswatini ranks in second place with just a percentage point of 0.01 short of 10 litres per person.

In Mzansi, the average person consumed 9.3 litres of alcohol in 2019 and considering that the alcohol limit in our country is 0.05g per 100ml, these are shocking figures.

See the table below for Africa’s top ten countries with the highest alcohol consumption rate per capita.