The African Green Rush – Rwanda joins South Africa and Ghana in growing and distributing cannabis
More good news for the African cannabis industry as Rwanda joins other African countries like South Africa and Ghana in producing medicinal cannabis. The government made it clear that it was entering this new market to improve its economic position.
African countries have earned a reputation for their reluctance to approve or adopt the legalization of cannabis, despite the drug’s widespread use among different age groups. The Republic of Rwanda has decided to stand out and instead take advantage of the situation by boosting the production of cannabis plants for local use and export.
Where is Rwanda?
Rwanda is an African country located just a few degrees south of the equator. The republic borders with Tanzania, Burundi, Congo and Uganda. It is a relatively peaceful country with tourist highlights. Rwanda is situated on an elevated plain where East Africa and several African lakes converge. The country’s geography is similar to that of Lesotho. Both are mountainous areas with dense populations.
The country’s decision to embrace cannabis reform can be attributed to the far-reaching wave of cannabis acceptance sweeping the globe, not to mention the enormous amounts of money western countries are raking in from cannabis markets. The country has a readily available demand for these products. The most recent census showed that the median age of Rwanda’s residents is in their early 20s — the official age of the country’s adult residents.
A new dawn
Although the government is still putting everything in place for production to begin, there is no denying that the country is on the verge of generating millions of dollars in revenue from cannabis sales and exports.
This work in progress was first announced in June 2021. The country expressed its interest in cannabis cultivation, which marked the beginning of concrete reforms in the country. The government then released its proposed framework for the cannabis sector, which included plans for the sector’s cultivation, processing and distribution niches.
The new information states that the Rwanda Development Board has approved the use of over 100 hectares of land for cannabis and hemp cultivation. In addition, the board announced that it is making solid progress on determining cannabis exports. The country says it also manufactures different product variants of the drug for export.
According to the Rwandan Development Board, it is working with executive governments to review the hundreds of cannabis business proposals submitted by interested cannabis companies. The agency explained that each company is selected based on its merits through a rigorous selection process. Companies with experience in cannabis production are also evaluated. The selection process is divided into different phases. So far, fewer than ten companies have scaled through.
Cannabis as an economic catalyst
If you look at data from countries with legal cannabis markets, you will see that cannabis has served as the economic engine for these countries. Next, Rwanda benefits from the medicinal cannabis sector.
The cannabis industry is one of the best economic catalysts a country can embrace right now. Thanks to scientific research and clinical trials, the misconceptions surrounding the drug are gradually being broken down. As more countries accept the practical use of cannabis-based medicines, the industry will continue to grow and investors will have more reasons to allocate more capital to the sector.
Many African countries could benefit from the cash injection that the legal cannabis market is bringing. Frankly, quite a number of these countries, including Rwanda, need the funds that would be generated from this industry. For example, most of the revenue could be reinvested in the economy to clean up the wreckage left by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rwandan government says it will focus more on exports of medicinal cannabis flower and processed products. The country’s goal is to become one of the largest producers of medicinal cannabis in the world. In fact, the country’s spokespersons announced that they hope to have a competitive advantage over cannabis-producing countries in North America and Europe. They plan to do this by having significantly lower production costs compared to their counterparts on other continents.
The next step
No company has been granted a license at this time. However, five companies have reached the highest level in the evaluation process. Once these licenses are granted, legal production of medicinal cannabis officially begins.
Many fear the delay in issuing licenses could put Rwanda on the same path taken by countries like Greece, Spain and the UK. This questionable trend will limit the level of reform in the country. However, it would still serve to generate revenue for cannabis exports. Like most North American cannabis companies, Rwanda sees Europe as a preferred location for its products.
Recreational cannabis in Rwanda
Rwanda only permits the use, sale and production of medicinal cannabis plants and products. The country’s constitution still states that recreational cannabis is an illegal substance.
Local residents who use the drug could face hefty fines, ranging from $500 to $4,500. In severe cases, the fines can be higher. Cannabis advocates in the country have called on the government to reduce these fines because they are exorbitantly high. Rwanda is a country with an average monthly income of $200; As a result, many caught offenders often fail to pay their fines. In addition to these fines, other penalties include imprisonment.
Cannabis is increasingly becoming the face of the new world market. Many economies around the world have suffered from the devastating effects of the pandemic, and a legal cannabis market offers an easy and quick way out of the mess.
Once Rwanda starts producing these crops, experts predict the market will move at an alarming rate. Rwanda will have the upper hand over its counterparts, largely because its production costs will be a fraction of what they cost in other areas. Not to mention that African weather conditions are optimal for cannabis growth. It is commendable that Rwanda’s leaders are seizing this golden opportunity to improve the health of their citizens and boost their economic conditions.
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