Cannabis and hemp in Africa are big business, and that could be great news for a continent that struggles to feed its people.
A New Frontier Data report entitled, ‘The African Regional Hemp & Cannabis Report, 2019 industry outlook,’ just found that Ethiopia’s cannabis market potential could stand at the $10 billion mark. New Frontier Data, based in Washington, has a mission to “elevate the discussion around the legal cannabis industry globally by providing unbiased vetted information and educating stakeholders to make informed decisions.” And some stakeholders and other investors will be delighted with the findings of the new report.
Africa, as a continent, is the poorest in the world. Ethiopia is one country in Africa that’s struggled financially, and even to feed its people regularly. While Nigeria already enjoys a booming $15.3 billion cannabis industry, Ethiopia is the second biggest – estimated around $9.8 billion. The study looked at legal and illegal global cannabis markets, reporting a figure of $344.4 billion globally, with Africa’s share of this standing at 11 percent; a total of $37.7 billion.
The new report, which covers 13 countries in Africa, including around 565.4 million people, found that roughly 42.8 million of that number are cannabis users. Another interesting finding from the report is that about 6 percent of people in the world use cannabis. Africa’s consumption rate though stands at 11.4 percent, almost double the average, according to the report (although these figures need to be understood correctly and in context).
According to the New Frontier Report, published on their website, “The continent’s growth presents opportunities for both medical cannabis and industrial hemp (a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for industrial use). Hemp is a source of fiber and oil, with seed being grown in more than 30 nations today.”
In terms of the findings of the report, it’s not merely about cannabis for medicine; it’s about hemp for industrial use too. The widespread cultivation of hemp in Ethiopia would stimulate the economy and create tens if not hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Moreover, hemp cultivation could be even more lucrative for the Ethiopian textile sector than cotton.
The report noted that hemp is easier and cheaper to cultivate than cotton and grows quicker too. “Locally sourced hemp fabrics may be a viable supplement to Ethiopia’s cotton textile and garment industries. Hemp cultivation requires about a quarter of the amount of water than that of producing cotton, and hemp can be planted much more densely, resulting in higher yields,” the report noted.
Even though it’s technically illegal to cultivate or use cannabis in Ethiopia, it is grown widely and used by many people. One area where cannabis grows in abundance is the Shashamane area, which was settled by Rastafari immigrants. Nevertheless, there has been no significant investment in cannabis in Ethiopia, and it’s not hard to see why.
Minister of Health Amir Aman (MD), said in a statement “The Ministry of Health’s position regarding the growing of cannabis (and hemp) for medicinal purposes in Ethiopia has neither been recognized nor sought after. And no regulatory approval was given. Requests for such investments have been and will continue to be denied.” With comments like that, it’s little wonder that investors are keen to pump in money.
It remains to be seen whether or not the authorities in Ethiopia will relax their stance on cannabis and hemp. If they do, it could see a massive and badly needed financial injection into the African nation.