Rwanda: Officials Want Drinking Age Raised to 21 Years

The legal alcohol drinking age in Rwanda should rise to 21 years, top government leaders under the Unity Club have urged.

The Unity Club is an association that brings together members of cabinet – former and present, their spouses, and other top government officials, with a purpose of promoting unity and contributing to the socio-economic development of the country.

Over the weekend, members of the club met and discussed a number of things, and came up with some resolutions which they consider important for the country’s present and future welfare.

Among these, they said the legal drinking age should be raised from 18 to 21, owing to the fact that high numbers of the country’s youth are falling for alcohol and drugs at a tender age, something that affects not only their wellbeing but also that of the whole nation.

According to statistics from Ndera Neuro-Psychiatric Teaching Hospital, in 2021/2022, 96,357 mental health patients were received by the hospital, and of these, 70 per cent are youth with issues induced by alcohol and drugs.

In 2018, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)’s report warned Rwanda against excessive alcohol consumption, saying that the country was the second-highest alcohol consumer in the region.

According to the World Health Organisation, 5.3 per cent of all deaths are attributable to alcohol consumption.

Globally, 61 per cent of countries have a drinking age of 18 or 19. India is the exception, where some states have a minimum drinking age as high as 25 and 30 years old.

In Africa, the highest legal drinking age is 21 in Egypt while the lowest is 15 years old in Ethiopia. In countries like Algeria and Benin, there is no legal drinking age.

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