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5 Ways for Africa Unlock its Cannabis Potential


Sibusiso Xaba, Africa Cannabis Advisory Group,

Words by Sibusiso Xaba

Founder and CEO of the African Cannabis Advisory group (ACAG)

Contact Sibusiso via the ACAG Wesbite




Africa needs to be proactive in attracting capital for large-scale cannabis products. Here thought-leader Sibusiso Xaba offers 5 suggestions African governments and entrepreneurs should embrace to realise the potential that cannabis has to offer. Here are 5 Ways for Africa Unlock its Cannabis Potential

1 – Create Bold and Smart Policies

Many countries have a great advantage to enter the cannabis market by setting policies and frameworks for the sector to succeed. We have a range of case studies from across the world on what has worked in the way of legalization, including where some of the challenges and roadblocks are. 

African countries are in a unique position right now to use all that information locally and set policy that will help them leapfrog the early stage bottlenecks of legalisation. 

One idea we’ve been discussing in depth with numerous governments is around having a centralised cannabis front office unit of sorts. This would be responsible for research, collaboration, and external strategic partnerships. It would also be responsible for working with the various government ministries to assist them in dsrafting smart policy for the sector.


2 – Promote intra-African Trade and Integration

According to the Brookings Institute, only 20% of African exports are to Africa. The number is around 60% in Asia and 70% in Europe. So, it’s clear that Africa is punching well below its weight when it comes to unlocking its own economic value. 

One really encouraging development in this area is the African Continental Free Trade Area which could create the world’s single largest market, with 1,2 billion consumers and US$2,2 trillion value from 55 countries, all under one single economic trading zone. This makes Africa a great market to target in the way of selling and developing products.


Caption: Hemp farming could be a game-changer for Africa, cannabiz africa, 2020 african cannabis news

Hemp farming could be a game-changer for Africa

3 – Create Community-Conscious Business Models

Over the last 10 to 20 years the world has gone through an evolution in how companies are run and managed and what defines success. We’ve seen global inequality cause massive protests and unrest throughout the world, including protectionist policies as a means to push back on some of the consequences of inequality.  

And so the businesses of the future, especially in Africa, are the ones that are going to have the community buy-in and have the community in which they operate be fully invested in that business. 

There are many examples of how this can work, from equity participation at a community level to benefits such as healthcare, education and the like.

4 – Use Cannabis to Solve African Problems

When we speak to entrepreneurs, the typical business model that we see is the dream of being able to export oils to Europe. We hear little interest to target the domestic economy on the industrial hemp side or on the medical side. 


Hemp farming could transform agriculture in Africa. cannabiz africa, african cannabis news

Hemp farming could transform agriculture in Africa

The African Development Bank and its partners are looking to invest R24 billion into the agricultural sector in Africa. Our view is that a portion of that is expected to go towards the hemp sector. 

The entrepreneurs that are positioning for that trade will do well focusing on the domestic economy.


5 – Find a Home for the Black Market

Cannabis cultivation is ingrained in the social fabric of many African communities. There are millions of Africans who have depended on this crop for sustenance. Finding ways in which the black market can integrate into the legal market is of utmost importance. 

The benefits are not only economic for those communities and villages, but you also have a situation where individuals come into the formal economy by having ID’s, access to banking credit, and the like. 


Hey, we know how to grow this stuff by the ton!, cannabiz africa, africa cannabis news

 Hey, we know how to grow this stuff by the ton!

And further down the line, the recreational market in the way of branded products and tourism will be another means of inclusive growth and development.

Sibusiso Xaba is  the founder and CEO of the Africa Cannabis Advisory Group. This article first appeared in Gibbs Business School Magazine earlier this year.  He can be reached via


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