British American Tobacco (BAT) - 100 years in Africa..

May 1, 2008 - On April 30, 2008 the British American Tobacco (BAT) celebrated 100 years of trade in Africa at its Annual General Meeting in London (on Wednesday, 30th April).

BAT is the second largest tobacco company in the world. BAT (K), British American Tobacco (K) Company ltd is a subsidiary of the London-based BAT, is the leading cigarette maker in sub-Saharan Africa boasting of 14 cigarette brands for the local and regional markets that include the whole Eastern, Central and Southern African, and the Indian Ocean Islands.(International premium brands include Dunhill, Pall Mall and Benson & Hedges.)

BAT sells cigarettes in at least 38 African countries and has more than a 90% market share in the following ten African Countries: Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Smoking rates in Africa are rising most sharply among young people and women. BAT’s marketing associates its brands with glamour, style, beauty, sport and celebrity - methods it claims to have voluntarily given up in the UK 30 years ago. Smoking among 13 to 15-year-olds is 33% in some parts of Uganda. In Nigeria, smoking among young women rose ten-fold during the 1990s.

BAT breached its own weak marketing code by allowing cigarettes to be sold singly - popular with children. BAT acknowledged it had begun an investigation into the alleged marketing breaches, but has failed to report publicly on its findings. BAT remains upbeat about its prospects in Africa. An internal BAT document noted: “We should not be depressed simply because the total free world market appears to be declining. Within the total market, there are areas of strong growth, particularly in Asia and Africa…It is an exciting prospect.”

References: BAT's African Footprint, Action On Smoking & Health (ASH), 4/30/2008 and The British American Tobacco (K) Company ltd, Nairobist, 2/3/2007.

Click on subSahara Africa map to enlarge..