Days after Rwanda approved the production of medicinal cannabis strictly for export, investors are already suggesting to the East African community to become a center for the export of medical cannabis, as the industry expands around the world.
The decision to legalize the export of medical cannabis was based on the revenue potential for the country. As a result, the government moved to develop and approve the bloc's first framework for the export of cannabis, and now it is reviewing offers from interested investors, according to the executive director of the Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi.
“Some of these therapeutic crops can reach around 10 million dollars per hectare of production. The flowers fetch around $ 300,000 per hectare, so economically it is a potentially good business for the country ”; Akamanzi said at the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency.
The global market for medical cannabis is currently worth $ 150 billion; and could exceed $ 272 billion in 2028, according to Barclays Bank.
Cannabis investors have started pouring money into Uganda, Zambia, Lesotho, South Africa, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, seeking to gain the upper hand as easing regulations on cannabis creates a massive legal market for a plant that has been demonized for decades.
Meanwhile, Tanzania and Kenya, the largest cannabis producers in the region, have been slow to legalize the export.
Uganda represents just one emerging player in the cannabis export stage. But thanks to the implementation of advanced guidelines for production and export, Uganda could quickly become one of the largest exporters of cannabis in Africa.
In January 2012, the Ugandan government registered Industrial Hemp Uganda Ltd, a medical cannabis company. Since then, more companies have been established across the country, including the Israeli cannabis company Together Pharma, which has a binding agreement with Industrial Hemp to invest in its production for clients in Europe and America.
Last year, the Ugandan government signed contracts to export medical cannabis products to Canada and Germany for a sum of $ 160 million.
“The current contracts are for 10 years, but along the way, we will expand to meet future demand, ”confirmed a director of Industrial Hemp Uganda Ltd, Benjamin Cadet.
Zimbabwe has a very young and restrictive medical cannabis program: the country legalized medical cannabis to increase the export revenue.
Last month, the country's agriculture minister, Anxious Masuka, issued three types of permits for cannabis producers, researchers, and traders.
He stated that producers can only grow, market, and sell industrial hemp, and researchers can cultivate it for research purposes. A trader can also hire individual farmers, purchase, and process industrial hemp into a specific product.
Before the new rule, people who grew cannabis in Zimbabwe were subject to jail time of up to 12 years.
According to a New Frontier Data investigation titled Hemp Cultivation in Africa: Zimbabwe Case Study 2019, Zimbabwe may raise $ 19 million in tax revenue.
In addition to creating between 60,000 and 90,000 jobs over a period of five years, from the production of medicinal and industrial cannabis.
After passing the progressive legalization of cannabis in an attempt to reduce its high fiscal deficit and mounting debt burden, Zambia is poised to become one of the leading exporters of medical cannabis in Africa.
Zambia's opposition Green Party chairman Peter Sinkamba, who has been championing the export of cannabis since 2013, said the move to legalize medical cannabis could bring Zambia up to $ 36 billion a year in revenue.
"Depending on how well this is done it could change the face of the Zambian economy," Sinkamba told Reuters. "This could be a blessing or a curse, like diamonds and gold, depending on the direction of policy."