Relatively speaking Africa may not have been as badly hit by the credit crisis as other parts of the world but champagne imports are nevertheless down across the continent. Except in Congo Brazzaville, that is, where sales last year sharply increased – even though it is one of the poorest and most indebted countries in the world, where two-thirds of the population live on less than a dollar a day and life expectancy is 45.
So who is quaffing it all? Congo Brazzaville’s leadership have a well-established track record for corruption and massive expenditure on personal luxury, but one Congolese official source suggested that the champagne is being re-exported to other countries in the region. Straightforward arbitrage – or is something more sinister going on?