More good news for the African cannabis industry as Rwanda joins other African countries like South Africa and Ghana in producing medical cannabis. The government clarified that it is entering this new market to improve its economic standing.
African countries have gained a reputation for their reluctance to approve or embrace cannabis legalization, 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 kick-starting 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 shares borders with Tanzania, Burundi, Congo, and Uganda. It is a relatively peaceful country with tourist highlights. Rwanda's position is on an elevated plane where East Africa and several African lakes merge. The country's geography is similar to Lesotho's. Both are mountainous areas with dense populations.
The country's decision to embrace cannabis reform can be attributed to the sweeping wave of cannabis acceptance going around the globe, not to mention the massive amount of money being generated by Western countries with cannabis markets. The country has a readily available demand for these products. The latest count revealed that the average age of residents of Rwanda is in their early 20s—that is the official age of adult residents in the country.
A New Dawn
Although the government is still putting things in order for production to begin, it is undeniable that the country is on the verge of making millions of dollars worth of revenues through cannabis sales and exports.
This work in progress was first revealed in June 2021. The country announced its interest in cannabis cultivation, which marked the start of tangible reforms in the country. The government subsequently released its proposed framework for the cannabis sector, which comprised plans for the cultivation, processing, and distribution niches of the sector.
The new information says the Rwanda Development Board has approved the use of over 100 hectares of land for cannabis and hemp cultivation. Additionally, the Board revealed that it is making solid progress in figuring out how cannabis exportation would go. The country claims that it will also manufacture different product variants of the drug for export.
According to the Rwandan Development Board, it is cooperating with the executive governments to go through the hundreds of cannabis business proposals that interested cannabis operators have submitted. The agency explained that each company would be selected based on its performance in the rigorous selection process. Even companies with previous cannabis production experience will be assessed. The selection process has been split into different phases. At this time, fewer than ten companies have scaled through.
Cannabis As An Economic Catalyst
Looking at data from countries with legal cannabis markets, you'll see that cannabis served as an economic driver for these countries. Rwanda is next in line to benefit from the medical cannabis sector.
The cannabis industry is one of the best economic catalysts any country can adopt at this point. Thanks to scientific research and clinical trials, the misconceptions around the drug are being chipped off gradually. As more countries continue to accept the practical application of cannabis-derived medicines, the industry will continue to grow, and investors will have more reason to pour more capital into the sector.
Many African countries could benefit from the financial injection that comes with the legal cannabis market. Truthfully, quite a number of these countries, including Rwanda, need the funds that would be generated from this industry. For instance, the bulk of the revenues could be reinvested into the economy to turnover the wreck left by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Rwandan government says it will focus more on the export of medical cannabis flowers and processed products. The country's goal is to be one of the largest producers of medical cannabis worldwide. In fact, the country's spokespersons disclosed that they hope to have a competitive advantage over cannabis-producing countries in North America and Europe. They plan to do this by having a significantly lower cost of production compared to their counterparts in other continents.
The Next Step
Currently, no company has been issued a license. However, five companies have gotten to the highest stage in the assessment process. Once these licenses are given, the legal production of medical cannabis will officially begin.
Many fear that the delay in issuing licenses could place Rwanda on the same path taken by countries like Greece, Spain, and the United Kingdom. This trend in question will limit the level of reforms in the country. However, it would still serve the purpose of generating income for cannabis exports. Like most North American cannabis operators, Rwanda considers Europe its preferred location for its products.
Recreational Cannabis In Rwanda
Rwanda only permits the use, sale, and production of medical cannabis plants and products. The country's constitution still states that recreational cannabis is an illegal substance.
Residents found using the drug could be subjected to hefty fines, ranging from $500 to $4,500. The fines could go higher than this in severe cases. Cannabis advocates in the country have requested that the government reduce these fines because they are exorbitantly high. Rwanda is a country with an average monthly income of $200; as a result, many offenders who are apprehended are frequently unable to pay their fines. In addition to these fines, other penalties include jail time.
Cannabis is growing to be the face of the new world market. Globally, many economies have suffered the devastating effects of the pandemic, and a legal cannabis market presents an easy and quick way to get out of the mess.
As soon as Rwanda begins the production of these plants, experts predict that the market will move at an alarming rate. Rwanda will have the upper hand over its counterparts, mainly because its production costs will be only a fraction of what they are in other areas. Not to mention that the African weather conditions are optimal for cannabis growth. It is commendable that the leaders of Rwanda are exploiting this golden opportunity to improve the health of their citizens as well as boost their economic conditions.