Alcohol Trade Faces Major Overhaul as Government Implements 25 New Tough Rules


The government has issued tough measures in including cancellation licenses for Al all second-generation alcohol manufacturers aimed at containing the illicit alcohol trade that had seen many deaths in the recent past. In a statement read out by Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki after the meeting, the government described the current level of trade, consumption, and abuse of drugs and illicit alcohol in the country as a national security threat.

“As previously indicated, the trade, consumption, and abuse of illicit alcohol, narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances now ranks as one of the five key national security threats, that include terrorism, banditry and livestock rustling, cultural, religious and political extremism, and climate change,” reads the statement in part.

To mitigate the illicit alcohol and substance abuse criris in the country, the government has therefore announced the following measures:

1. All licenses and certification permits for second-generation alcohol and alcoholic beverage distillers and manufacturers, issued by Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Bureau of Standards stand suspended with immediate effect.  All existing valid licenses will be vetted afresh within twenty-one days (21) days of this directive, with premises approved to resume operations only upon receipt of fresh approval.

2. The Ministry of Interior and National Administration invites all currently licensed manufacturers and distillers to a meeting to be held on Tuesday 12th March 2024 at 10.00am on the above prescription. Due notifications will be issued by separate cover.

3. Fresh license applications shall require manufacturers to have Quality Control (QC) laboratories installed with Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionization Detector (FID), and this MUST be operated by competent laboratory analyst to test incoming raw materials and finished products before releasing to the market. The laboratories should register with a provider of inter laboratory comparison and submit their QC results to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) on monthly basis.

4. All alcohol manufacturers shall henceforth establish and document all traders in their distribution chain and have procedures for ensuring full traceability from the factory to the consumer of alcoholic products manufactured for sale. All alcoholic products shall include traceability information including manufacturer details, location, and ingredients/content.

5. The Kenya Bureau of Standards shall ensure that within 45 days, all industrial ethanol is denatured or marked with a denaturing agent (denatonium benzoate) to prevent diversion and/or the accidental use of industrial ethanol in alcohol manufacture.

6. Any licences currently issued to bars and other outlets and premises by County Governments that are contrary to the provisions of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, especially as relates to licensing of premises within residential areas and around basic educational institutions are null and void. County Security Teams are to secure shutdown and seizure of such premises with immediate effect.

7. No bars or alcoholic outlets shall be allowed to operate beyond the stipulated operation hours as provided in section 34 of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, failure to which the operator shall be fined or imprisoned as provided by law and all the drinks, and related accessories in the premises forfeited with accompanying license withdrawal.

8. All manufacturers/distillers aware of counterfeits of their products and fail to report to the Anti Counterfeit Authority on the same shall be deemed complicit. Licensed manufacturers will be required to furnish County Security Teams with the geo-location and physical details of their licensed premises, as well as stock records per licensed premises. Any other physical premises stocking, manufacturing and housing manufactured stocks will be deemed illegal stocks for destruction.

9. Section 17(a) of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act stipulates that a law enforcement officer of public officer who aides and abets any offence under the Act including concealing the commission of any offence and collusion shall be liable to punishment. In this regard officers abetting, concealing or colluding with any person to commit an offence under alcoholic drinks shall be liable as per law.

10. Further, and in line with the Public Ethics Act,  all public officers in the enforcement/compliance chain (KRA, KEBS, ACA, Public Health, NACADA, NGAO, NPS etc) shall not own and operate a bar directly or via proxy. All public officers currently operating such premises are required to shut them down or resign from the service with immediate effect. Cross-referencing of the Public Service Commission, National Police Service Commission and distinct agency staff records shall be undertaken to secure compliance thereof.

11. All landlords or premise owners shall be deemed aiders and abetters thereof and be held liable for renting out space for the establishment of bars/ wines and spirits outlets in prohibited areas pursuant to section 20(c) of the Penal Code.

12. All chemists and agrovets are to submit their licenses to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and Veterinary Medicines Directorate for verification within 30 days, failure to which they shall be deemed unlicensed for closure. All unlicensed and noncompliant drug manufacturers, agrovets and chemists are to be shut down with immediate effect. The list of currently approved and licensed establishments has been shared with county security teams for reference.


13. All licensed pharmacists and veterinary doctors dispensing prescription drugs without prescription shall be deregistered. All licensed chemists/pharmacies and agrovets when issuing prescriptions drugs shall mandatorily issue a certification of the issuing chemist/agrovets, name and license number of the issuing officer for purposes of tracing.

14. All vehicles/buildings used in storage, manufacturing trafficking of illegal drugs, illicit brews and alcohol shall pursuant to section 74 of the Narcotic  Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Control Act be seized and deemed to be government property.

15. The Ministry of Interior and National Administration and Ministry of Health shall put in place measures for branding and colour specification of all alcoholic and tobacco distribution vehicles. Further, such products are to be transported between the hours of 6am and 6pm only. The guidelines to be issued within 14 days from this directive, with manufacturers expected to secure full implementation within 45 days.

16. A multi stakeholder approach has been instituted to strengthen surveillance, enforcement and compliance at all levels led by the National Government Administrative Officers.

17. Surveillance at the border points will be undertaken through a multi-agency framework with key actors including KEBS, Immigration, KRA, NPS and ACA.

18. To enforce compliance on package according to the Alcoholics Drinks Control Act, the Kenya Bureau of Standards shall within 60 days, review the guidelines on minimum quantity of alcoholic drinks to enhance the same from 250ml to 750ml or higher.

19. All enforcement agencies shall undertake integrity vetting of all officers manning border points, highways and regional offices. Only officers of integrity and good standing will be appointed to conduct surveillance at the border points and highways especially Namanga and  Isebania, Moyale and Isiolo.

20. The importation, manufacture, sale, use, advertisement, promotion or distribution of shisha is outlawed in the country, any establishment found in breach of this provision will be shut down with immediate effect. County Security Teams are required to enforce this prescription without fail.

21. The labelling and packaging of all tobacco products in Kenya must comply with the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act 2007 and the Tobacco Control Regulations 2014. Products that do not comply must be withdrawn from the market.

22. The National Treasury is urged to fastrack the harmonization of custom and excise duty of ethanol in the EAC region to prevent arbitrage within 45 days. Further, within 60 days, the National Treasury shall conclude taxation proposals towards:

a.Incorporation of a model of taxation based on alcohol content;

b.Review the taxation framework for beer and other non-spirited alcoholic drinks to mitigate the risk of harmful effects.

c.Mandatory adoption of digital KEBS/KRA stamps for all alcohol and alcohol-based products, and the withdrawal of physical stamps.

23. The Ministry of Health is urged to issue directives for all level 3 and above hospitals to establish dedicated rehabilitation wards/facilities in line with existing norms and standards.

24. Parliament is requested to prioritize and fast-track the processing of all legislative interventions towards amendments to the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act; Tobacco Control Act; Public Health Act; Pharmacy and Poisons Board Act; Veterinary Medicines Directorate Regulations and other accompanying regulations.

In particular, the amendments to the Alcoholics Drinks Control Act to ensure that county licensing is conditional to receipt of a clearance certificate from NACADA as a pre-condition for the issuance of license to sell, distribute and otherwise deal with alcoholic drinks.

25. All County Security Committees have received the existing approved and licensed list of manufacturers, distillers, pharmacists, and agrovets. The Committees are hereby directed to shut down and destroy all illicit manufacturing installations, distilleries, agrovets and chemists not within the approved list of licensed enterprises within 10 days of this directive.

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