Nigerians are drinking more beer in spite of an economic downturn

The bottles are flying off the shelves in Nigeria
The bottles are flying off the shelves in Nigeria
Image: Reuters/Toby Melville
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Nigeria’s economy has been battered in the last six months as the country reels from the effects of low oil prices and a currency slide. Nigerians are feeling the brunt as jobs have been cut and businesses closed down. To make matters worse, the country, Africa’s largest oil producer, is also in the grip of one of its worst fuel scarcity and power shortage difficulties.

Yet, despite all this, first quarter results from Heineken show Nigerians are consuming more beer than at the same time last year despite the harsh times.

The Dutch brewery announced that organic consolidated beer volume grew 4.6% across the Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe regions with Nigeria being a major driver of that growth. In its statement, Heineken says excluding Nigeria, volume would have been down for the region.

Heineken faced stiffer realities in other parts of the region as it said “both affordability and lower tourism” are “continuing to impact performance” but thanks to its performance in the Nigerian market, consolidated beer volume is up from first quarter a year ago.

Despite increased consumption, Heineken still faces challenges in Nigeria. The world’s third largest brewery says ”underlying trading conditions remain tough” amid a “weaker consumer environment”

The brewery has also been hit by Nigeria’s continuing restrictions on access to international currency like the dollar. It says it is “becoming increasingly challenging to obtain hard currency in the market and the uncertainty regarding a possible devaluation of the Naira continues to impact the business adversely.”

It may seem counterintuitive Nigerians are seemingly spending more on beer with the harsh times, but the people of Africa’s largest economy are known for their resilience, good humor  and to be fun-loving even in tough times. Never missing a chance to throw parties, event centers in major cities are routinely overbooked on weekends. One indicator of Nigerians’ general disposition despite the current economic environment, is the fact the country featured in the top 10 ranked African countries on the latest World Happiness Index.