Africa is set to become the cannabinoid production centre of the world. Photo: Pixabay

INTERNATIONAL – Africa is likely to become one of the world’s top medical cannabis growers, a group of researchers, scientists and entrepreneurs said on Monday.

“Africa will become the cannabinoid production centre of the world,” Jordan Curl, cultivation and extraction specialist at Israeli Cannabis research and investment firm Ican told more than 500 delegates at the CannaTech conference in Cape Town.

The African cannabis and associated products market is expected to be worth $7.1 billion (R104.35bn) by 2023, according to a report by London-based industry body Prohibition Partners.

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With abundant land, a large labour force and an ideal climate for cannabis cultivation, investors have been keen to scout out the continent, and particularly Southern Africa.

Africa offers growers comparatively clean soil, little pollution and many high-quality strains of CBD, one of the most abundant cannabinoids found in hemp, 
ideally positioning the continent for global exports, according to Curl.

“The EU is in turn likely to become one of the biggest retail market spaces, because there is mass demand for CBD, but lack of infrastructure to grow and extract,” Curl said.

South Africa is leading Africa’s entry into the global market together with neighbouring Lesotho and Zimbabwe, having recently granted licences to grow and export legal medical cannabis.

A number of other nations, including Swaziland, Uganda and Malawi, are currently examining legalising cannabis cultivation for medical or industrial applications.

Cannabis has the potential to become the “real green revolution” in Africa, where cannabis growing has a rich, if often vilified, century-old history, said Dr Daniel Tumwine, a doctor who assists Uganda’s government in establishing legislation and licensing.

BUSINESS REPORT