Africa’s Cannabis Industry Projected To Value At $7 Billion By 2023

A new analysis has projected Africa’s cannabis industry to grow beyond a valuation of $7 billion by 2023 due to increasing demand and legalization of the plant across the continent.

Danie Nel, the Chief Executive Officer of South African pharmaceutical company Afriplex, confirmed the immense potential of the cannabis industry to the continent’s economy, from opportunities in the cultivation process to the production of consumables and the supply of consumables to retail outlets.

Nel also listed opportunities along the lines of secondary services such as consulting, regulatory, and legal. He said all of these will combine to guarantee the expected growth in the African cannabis industry.

Most countries in Africa have favourable climates for the growth of the crop but lack of legalization of cultivation based on moral grounds and the potential of abuse has been the number one factor slowing down the potential of cannabis in Africa for both medicinal and recreational use. Elsewhere in the world, cannabis-focused companies such as Curaleaf Holdings, Aphria and OraniGram to mention a few, generate millions of dollars in annual revenues and have market capitalisations running into billions of dollars.

For instance, Curaleaf Holdings Inc made about $317.1 million in the third quarter of 2021 while Aphria’s revenue grew from $5.12 million in the third quarter of 2017 to an estimated  $156.3 Million in the second quarter of 2021.

“I think we have a long way to go. Countries like South Africa and Lesotho have already approved the legal framework for cannabis; for medicinal use. I have to distinguish between medicinal use and recreational use. But more African countries are coming along, putting the legal/regulatory frameworks in place to allow for the legal growing of cannabis, the processing thereof and the development of final products to retail,” Nel added.

List Of African countries to Legalize Cannabis

The legalization of cannabis in Africa is limited to only a few countries. The countries in question have many challenging regulations that limit the use of the crop despite being legalized.

South Africa for instance has legalized the sale of cannabis only for private use. Jail term is the proscribed punishment for anyone caught with cannabis in public.

In Nigeria, the use, cultivation, transportation or trade of Cannabis is illegal but the government has failed to halt cannabis cultivation or use in Nigeria due to the country’s flawed justice system. A staggering amount of cannabis is exported each year with no judicial consequences.

The possession of Cannabis in Nigeria carries a life sentence. The laws for the cultivation and use of marijuana in the country are just about the same. Still, with over 200 million people living in Nigeria, it is estimated that over 10% of the adults are regularly using Cannabis in the country, and the national drug regulatory authorities have been unsuccessful in compiling a Cannabis legalization act. 

Other countries that have legalized cannabis include: Malawi, Egypt (Legalized for expiration only), Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho,  Eswatini, Uganda, and Rwanda.

Patsy Nwogu

Reporting on data-driven featured stories and investigations.

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