A guide to Africa cannabis investing

Since the decriminalisation of the private use of cannabis by the Constitutional Court of South Africa in 2018, the government and public have gradually become more receptive to the growth of cannabis for its potential health benefits. The emergence of top-rated cannabidiol (CBD) products is on the rise, not only privately, but in many of South Africa’s biggest retail stores, including Clicks, Dis-Chem and Health Central, among others. This has meant more investment opportunities in cannabis-related products, even at the retail end of the value chain.


According to Afriplex MD Danie Nel, with South Africa being the fourth-largest cannabis producer in the world, the number of products that can be made using cannabis is almost endless. Afriplex, established in 2001, is a South African company rooted in developing and manufacturing botanical extracts, complementary medicines and food and beverage product solutions. “Since Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) can enter the body in various ways like smoking, ingesting, vaping and through the skin, the prospects for investment in cannabis products are incredible. However, certain products, like medical cannabis, seem to be more prominent than others.”

Highly valued commodity

Medical cannabis was legalised in South Africa in 2017. The term refers to legal, high-quality and standardised products made from raw cannabis used for medicinal purposes, including pain management, inflammation, neurological and mental disorders and sleep management, among others. Typically prepared as a tablet, capsule or spray, cannabis for medicinal use can be traced back to 2900 BC when Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi referred to cannabis as a very popular medicine that possessed both yin and yang.


These days, medical cannabis is standardised and dosage-controlled to maximise its benefits and minimise side effects. While some medicinal cannabis products contain either CBD or THC, others feature a combination of the two. Due to the strict quality control and associated costs of the production of medical cannabis, this remains a highly valued commodity, and demand is growing.


As such, Afriplex will be participating in a first-of-its-kind cannabis investment virtual conference with full support from the government. The delegation consists of the top cultivators, leading CBD brands and a team of researchers working together with the Cannabis Research Institute of South Africa. “This conference will highlight opportunities to invest back into South Africa but also trade opportunities for all involved,” added Nel.


“The global demand for medical cannabis is on the rise, and more countries, including South Africa, are realising the business opportunities that come with it. The cannabis market is multifaceted, and thanks to the government’s participation, revenue streams for prospective cannabis investors are some of the most robust we’ve ever seen,” he continues.


“The Expert Guide to Africa Cannabis Investing live panel Q & A, taking place on 9 November 2021, invites everyone to join business, policy and thought leaders on a step-by-step guide to navigating Africa’s accelerating cannabis industry. This will be followed by a live webinar and virtual matchmaking programme between participants from Africa and interested parties in North America.”


Online topics covered will include South Africa as an investment destination, why now is the perfect time to invest, emerging trends and opportunities, South Africa’s regulatory trends and outlook, compliance and certification, cannabis biotechnology, and future investment opportunities, to name a few. All discussions will be hosted by leaders in the respective cannabis fields, with featured panellists including Releaf Pharmaceuticals, Rethink CBD, African Growth Fund, Leaftec, CloneLabs, Iconiq, Cannabis Research Institute, MedReleaf, Health Central and Cultrax.


A need to embrace new technology

“The legalisation and regulation of medical cannabis in South Africa have opened new investment opportunities, with the Western Cape, in particular, already attracting significant investor interest. The province accounted for 49% of South Africa’s agricultural exports in 2017. However, due to recent climatic changes and water shortages, there is a need to embrace new technology to overcome the challenges that impact agricultural conditions.”


“The legal cannabis market is expected to increase by 20% every year for the next 10 years. As a result, cannabis will have to be cultivated in improved, laboratory-like conditions and require extensive greenhouse environments. There will also be a global explosion in cannabis-related investment. As South Africa becomes more accustomed to the legalities and benefits of medical cannabis, high-cost suppliers will dwindle, making products more accessible to South Africans. This will ultimately create thousands of new jobs in the country and spur on economic growth,” concluded Nel.

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