Page last updated at 10:36 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Ethiopia hit by Coca-Cola drought

Kenyan man pours Coca-Cola on head
Coca-Cola is normally on sale even in remote parts of Africa

Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa has run out of Coca-Cola as the credit crunch takes the fizz out of the economy.

The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in the city says she has known African countries to run out of petrol, soap, sugar, batteries or tyres - but never Coke.

The East Africa Bottling Share Company, which produces the soft drink in the region, last week temporarily shut its bottling operation in Ethiopia.

It said they had the Coca-Cola - but did not have the bottle tops.

The firm, which has sent 1,000 workers on compulsory leave, said in its most recent statement that the Ethiopian government had intervened.

The company promised the familiar bottles would start rolling out of the plant again soon.

National emergency?

Our correspondent says it sounds almost as if the Coca-Cola shortage is being treated as a national emergency.

When she visited a local bar she found it had run out of Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Sprite and Fanta. Mirinda was the only soft drink on offer.

It has been estimated that around 35,000 outlets throughout Ethiopia will be unable to serve Coca-Cola and sister brands until the shortage is resolved.

Street children have reportedly been collecting the much-needed bottle tops from the streets of Addis Ababa and selling them back to companies to recycle for around $0.2 (£0.13) a kilogram.

Coca-Cola is normally on sale even in some of the most remote parts of Ethiopia and other African countries.

The continent has been largely spared the worst of the global banking crisis, but it is becoming obvious there are problems finding enough foreign exchange to keep Ethiopia's economy running, says our correspondent.

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