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The African Cannabis Market Overview: Estimated Legal Market Worth was US$41 million in 2021/2

The African Cannabis Market Overview: Estimated Legal Market Worth was US$41 million in 2021/2

Cannabiz Africa/Prohibition Partners

2 June 2024 at 10:00:00

Prohibition Partners has just released its African Cannabis Market Overview for 2022. Among its key findings are that, driven by South Africa, the continent has seen significant growth but that it lags behind other cannabis-producing nations. It reports that over the next five years the South African market for decriminalized cannabis in South Africa will grow.

The Africa Cannabis Market Overview published by international global cannabis consultancy Prohibition Partners reviews the years 2021/2 and is therefore at best a look in the rear view mirror. 


Having said that the trends are there. They are well-known to African cannabis entrepreneurs: the continent has tremendous potential and a rich growing potential but is failing to hit the mark. Despite the fact that 11 African countries have legalized medical cannabis for export, the combined value of the continent’s cannabis market is only US$41 million. This pales in comparison to other legal cannabis jurisdictions in North and South America and Europe.


Prohibition Partners reports that South Africa has been the “headline driver” of growth in Africa and that over the next five years “it is likely that a market for decriminalised cannabis will grow in South Africa, with a need for supplies such as grow equipment and seeds for cultivation in homes and at social clubs. This could also develop into a more fully commercialised legal system if legislation continues to progress in the country.”


Note that this report precedes the Presidency's The Phakisa Project and the passing into law of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Act.


Cannabiz Africa will highlight the individual country findings in the African Cannabis Market Overview in the weeks ahead.


African Cannabis Market Overview 20201/2: Key Findings

  • The African medical cannabis and industrial hemp industries have seen significant growth and development over the course of 2021 and 2022.

  • Countries such as South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Malawi have seen an increase in licence issuance, exports and investments in the industry.

  • South Africa has been the headline driver of growth in Africa, with President Cyril Ramaphosa again highlighting cannabis and hemp as being priority growth sectors for the South African economy at his State of the Nation address in February 2022, stating his goal of creating over 130,000 sustainable cannabis and industrial hemp jobs in South Africa.

  • Africa benefits from a favourable growing climate, competitive cultivation input costs and a rich history of traditional cannabis growing communities similar to those in South America.

  • Medical cannabis and industrial hemp continue to be key focal industries for revived growth.

  • Due to South Africa having a mature over-the-counter cannabidiol (CBD) market since 2019, South Africa is the largest domestic market in Africa by value.

  • Unlike other legal cannabis jurisdictions, Africa has very few registered medical cannabis patients. South Africa is the largest patient market, estimated to have less than 1,000 registered patients.

  • Africa currently has 11 countries that have legalised medical cannabis in some form, mainly for export only. These include; Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Ghana, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

  • Africa’s cannabis industry is driven by exports to international legal markets, with very limited local activity outside of South Africa at present.

  • The total estimated size of the legal African cannabis market is appropriately US$41 million, with the bulk of legal sales occurring in the CBD market though it should be noted that these figures have a high degree of uncertainty owing to a lack of available data and a dearth of research on the market.

  • The industrial hemp sector in Africa is still in its infancy, with limited traction from  Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa to date.

  • Over the next five years, it is likely that a market for decriminalised cannabis will grow in South Africa, with a need for supplies such as grow equipment and seeds for  cultivation in homes and at social clubs. This could also develop into a  more fully commercialised legal system if legislation continues to progress in the country.

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