Cape Town (dpa) - African countries have good chances, according to experts, to play a leading role in the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes on the world market.
The participants of the conference «CannaTech» in Cape Town expect this. More than 500 scientists, entrepreneurs and founders of the cannabis industry met for consultations during the two-day meeting.
"Africa will become the world center of cannabinoid production," said Monday Monday the cultivation specialist Jordan Curl of the Israeli company ICAN, which researches and invests in cannabis. He assumes that the European Union will become one of the largest markets. "There is a mass demand for CBD, but there is a lack of infrastructure for growing and extracting."
Especially in the south of the continent, experts see the prerequisites for hemp cultivation: sufficient land area, plenty of available manpower and an ideal climate for plant growth. Africa also has relatively clean soils, low levels of air pollution and high-quality cannabidiol (CBD) - the constituent of female cannabis that has no anti-psyche, anti-inflammatory and medicinal properties. With these conditions, Africa is ideally positioned, according to Curl.
The value of cannabis products and related goods legally manufactured in Africa will amount to $ 7.1 billion (approximately € 6.4 billion) in 2023, according to the British market research firm Prohibition Partners.
Above all, South Africa, with its neighbors Lesotho and Zimbabwe, wants to lead the continent in the global market. The land on the Cape of Good Hope has recently issued licenses for the cultivation and export of medically used cannabis. Other countries, such as eSwatini (formerly: Swaziland), Uganda and Malawi are considering possible legalization of the plant for medical use.
Cannabis has the potential for a "real green revolution" in Africa, according to physician Daniel Tumwine, who supports Uganda's government in its legalization. Hemp cultivation has a rich, centuries-old history in Africa, although this is often denied. "We have a competitive advantage in agriculture, excellent gene strains for medical cannabis, and good manufacturing capabilities," Warren Schewitz said. His company, Southern Sky, based in Cape Town, focuses on cultivation, processing and production of cannabis products.
Numerous companies from Europe, Canada and Israel also traveled to CannaTech to exhibit and explore opportunities in Africa. "We definitely see a huge potential here," said the owner of the Dutch manufacturer Agratechniek, Jan Appelman. Despite optimistic prognoses, there are also several hurdles: The status of medically used cannabis varies from country to country, in some cases the legislation is unclear.
And according to the experts, there is the old problem of the lack of infrastructure in Africa. "It is a great opportunity, but there is also a lot of work on the way," said Schewitz. Governments and the private sector need to work more together to create an effective regulatory framework for the market. In his opinion, African governments are interested in the cultivation of medical cannabis: they have understood that the market promises jobs at a local level.