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Champagne. Image Credit:
It is the usual sight in the nightlife of Lagos; to walk into a club and witness a ‘Lagos Big Boy’ order so many bottles of champagne that they end up running into its worth in millions. It is even more normal to spot a simple college student with at least two Moet bottles for his table, the fizzy expensive drink chilling in an ice-cold bucket, with the young purchasers looking nonchalantly around. Nigerians are notoriously known for consuming champagne. Why is this so? “Too much oil money,” said a 40-year-old man at Rhapsody’s in the high-end Victoria Island district of Lagos, when asked about the phenomenon. According to the recent data on The Guardian, Nigeria is amongst the fastest-growing countries in the world when it comes to champagne consumption, spending an estimated $59 million in 2012 on the  bubbly drink. This research was done by the Euromonitor International research firm. That number ($59 million) is up from $49 million in 2011, and the firm forecasts that the country will spend some $105 million on fizz in 2017. The study showed 849,000 litres in new consumption during that timeframe in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with a huge gap between its rich and poor. Although the Euromonitor senior analyst Spiros Malandrakis said the figures have since come down somewhat, with projections around 500,000 litres in new consumption from 2012-17, these figures still keep Nigeria in the upper tier. The analysts pin the cause of this rise to oil wealth, hip-hop, movie stars and an elite society obsessed with status symbols. “It’s among the top markets for the future of Champagne,” Malandrakis said. You can imagine my confusion when I stumbled across this piece of information. Yes, we do drink champagne, but this much? In a country where 63% of the population is supposedly living under $1 a day, what excuse do we have for this almost obscene extravagance? I pushed my laptop over to my colleague to share the incredibly dire news, and I watched as her face clouded in disgust. “Why are we buying so much champagne? What are we celebrating?!” I push this question to you. Why indeed?

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This article was first published on 11th May 2013 and updated on May 26th, 2013 at 6:53 pm

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