Legal Cannabis in Africa is Estimated to be Worth over $7B by 2023

According to a new report, South Africa and Nigeria will lead the newly-emerging market.


There doesn’t seem to be a corner left on earth where the echoes of cannabis aren’t making their way, and it’s time for Africa to claim its right to legal marijuana.

Great weather for cultivation, affordable labor, chea land and a vast experience in agriculture make the birthplace of man, a very promising destination for cannabusinesses to set-up shop.

And while social, political and economical struggles across the region might present uncertainties to investors, a close look at the continent’s current situation and future projections is a must for anyone keeping an eye on the international cannabis markets.

A Promising Future

As we’ve learned from Colombia’s recent example, having experience in growing cannabis illegally is actually a great advantage when looking to straighten up and fly right. An illegal industry (after subtracting the law enforcement conflicts associated with drug cartels and black markets) is still composed by a great number of individuals with all the know-how necessary to produce and distribute the plant, many of which will be more than pleased to turn to turn their businesses legal.

According to the UN, Africa is currently estimated to produce at least 38,000 tonnes of cannabis per year, although the plant is still illegal in most of its countries. And while most of the product is currently consumed locally, Prohibition Partner’s report claims that, provided African countries find a way to live up to international quality standards, legal production for export could turn out to be a great opportunity for the 54 African states, some of which are eyeing the growing European market as a possible final destination for their legally produced crop.

As for the internal market, expectations are also running high, although some problems could come up along the way. On the plus side, Africa as a whole has one of highest rates of cannabis consumption per capita in the world, rising up to 13.2%. This figure that almost doubles Europe’s 6 to 7%, and widely surpasses North America’s 8%, and the global average of 3.9%. However, it’s wise to point out that out of the 1.216 million people in Africa, more than one third remain below the poverty line. This can present difficulties when trying to build a recreational market, or even when developing a market for medical cannabis, since much of the health care efforts are usually relegated to priorities like vaccines and HIV/AIDS medication.

Yet, the report is looking at poverty as a major possible motor towards legalization, since the urgent need to replace declining crops like tobacco might push governments of states like Zimbabwe and Malawi (where tobacco crops are a main source of income) to open their fields to the Green Gush.

Legalization on the Rise

Some countries in Africa, like South Africa, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have already legalized some form of medical marijuana. Others like Morocco (the largest producer of hash in the world), have begun implementing decriminalization policies within its boundries.

Nigeria and Zambia rank as the first two countries in the continent in terms of total cannabis consumers (3rd and 10th worldwide), while Malawi, Ghana and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) have officially started a conversation to move forwards on cannabis legalization.

Taking data from these countries, and assuming all nine of them will have legalized cannabis by 2023, the firm is forecasting that the African cannabis market will be worth $7.1 billion by that year, which will be divided between $6.3b in recreational and $0.8b in medical. Nigeria is expected to represent the biggest market in the region, with $3.7b, followed by South Africa, which is expected to climb up to $1.7b. The Cannabis Expo 2019 will be held to days from now in Cape Town, South Africa, and will go on until 4/7. Attendance from the biggest regional names in the sector is expected.

" Natan Ponieman : Natán Ponieman is a cannabis writer with a special interest in marketing, sociology, religion and art. He started writing about cannabis after working for a decade as a copy and scriptwriter for advertising and TV.."