Here we come, Cannabis Business Africa

A new voice of the emerging multi-billion Rand industry, welcomes you

By Edward Tsumele

Currently there is certainly this cloud of gloom over the rampaging coronavirus that the World Health Organisation has rightly declared a Pandemic. This is especially so because since the first case was ever reported in China in 2019, the virus has spread throughout the world.

In South Africa the number of reported cases of infections is over 1 million, and thankfully, recoveries have been more positive compared to other nations of the world and yet deaths of close to 40 000 have been reported so far.

Those who succumbed to the virus includes prominent members of society, alongside ordinary South Africans.. The country is currently emerging out of the second wave of infections dominated by a new variant of the novel coronavirus.

This is definitely gloomy stuff and yet there is hope as scientist have developed a number of vaccines that have been proven to be scientifically efficacious against the virus, and South Africa will soon receive its own share of doses from Johnson & Johnson versions of the vaccines, and these will be rolled out first to healthcare workers.

But then economies of the world, including in South Africa have been battered by the virus outbreak, especially as it necessitated the implementation of various lockdowns to control the spread and prepare health care facilities to deal with patients adequately in the country’s health facilities. There has always been a lingering fear since the outbreak of Covid-19, that South Africa’s health system would not copy If it ia suddenly besieged by large numbers of people who are infected, and are seeking hospitalization.

All this points out to tough times for the South African economy as so far around 4 million people are said to have lost their jobs already as a direct result of the pandemic. However government is determined to stabilize and make the conditions conducive for restarting the economy’s growth trajectory that has been disrupted by the pandemic.

This became clear in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation (Sona) address delivered on February, 11, 2021 in Parliament where he focused on four key issues.

“We must defeat the coronavirus pandemic; that is the primary aim in all we do. And second, we must accelerate our economic recovery. Third, we must implement economic reforms to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth. And finally, we must fight corruption and strengthen the state,” he stated.

In his speech he made it clear that there is a plan to get the economy to start working again, irrespective of the huge challenges, singling out the renewable energy sector, as one of emerging industries to focus on.  He also put special emphasis on master plans for the clothing, chicken, vehicle and sugar sectors alongside 42 products, such as edible oils, fruit concentrates and steel products, for sourcing locally. development.

However the fact that he never mentioned one of the emerging industries in the world, that is bound to contribute to the economic growth due to its potential once especially regulatory frameworks have been fully worked out, and clarity on enabling legislation dealt with, the legal cannabis industry, must have left role players in the industry disappointed.

South Africa has the perfect weather and soil for the cannabis plant to be farmed locally for both local needs as well as for exports to such countries as Canada where cannabis is comprehensively legalized for both commercial and for recreational purposes.

This lingering doubt about the country’s leaders’ commitment to unlocking the potential of the legal cannabis industry must have been a crime of omission rather than commission by the President, especially because at last year’s Sona, the President made it clear that the emerging cannabis industry was receiving government’s attention.

During last year’s Sona, Rampaphosa was unequivocal about his administration’s commitment to looking into the potential of the cannabis sector. His senior top officials, from government ministers to Premiers also made the right noises with regards to the industry. And they are right because the industry is estimated to be R27 billion in South Africa by 2023, almost the same as that of cigarettes at R30 billion.  Africa whole  hosts an industry worth of R106 billion.

And so what did this mean for the cannabis industry?  That initial public support by the current administration meant that there is a silver lining on the horizon for cannabis entrepreneurs, especially after this virus has been put under control, and life returns to normality again.

Yes, the outbreak of this virus might have disrupted many a business, including those in the emerging cannabis industry, an opportunity that will certainly alter the complexion of many an economy, especially in Africa, South African included. This will happen as the current move to relax regulations governing the cultivation and the manufacture of CBD derived products, will certainly open opportunities to investors in this sector, creating employment and adding billions to the countries’ finances.

With unemployment in South Africa standing at close to 40%, the economy having contracted mainly due to the outbreak of the virus , and the gap between the poor and the rich still disturbingly huge, adding R107 billions to the South African economy, the cannabis industry is certainly a growth area the government must clearly focus on, supporting this emerging industry by creating a conducive regulatory framework that does not unnecessarily restrict but enable this sector to grow.

This has become urgent especially in light of the impact of the outbreak of the coronavirus that has forced the  economy to contract. President Ramaphosa no doubt, knows the potential of the cannabis industry as he alluded to the government’s commitment to grow the hemp sector (part of the cannabis plant that does not have the psychoactive compound THC that makes people high) in last year’s (Sona) address, and so did the Premier of Gauteng David Makhura in his State of the Province Address (Sopa).

At the time Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had gone public about his support for the cannabis industry. The Eastern Cape Provincial Government where there is good soil for cannabis cultivation was also eager to get the ball rolling.

And so the political will is there, and what is now needed on the part of government is to expedite the legislative framework, streamlining the stringent regulations around the issuing of license and permits for those who want to cultivate and extract CBD products.

It is therefore against this background that Cannabis Business Africa launches, and we are as excited about this new emerging industry as the many entrepreneurs that are already involved in this industry, and already there are success stories.  Currently there is a plethora of legal cannabis derived products being sold around South Africa ranging from skincare, food supplements, energy drinks to wellness products. And also there are farmers that have been awarded permits to plant the crop for medical research into cannabis as well as for planting hemp cannabis.

The environment though is still restrictive, especially when it comes to getting the permits from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, an entity of the Department of Health. Talks that cannabis will in future be under the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are therefore encouraging.

Cannabis Business Africa will be at the fore front of telling these success stories of cannabis entrepreneurs as well as disseminating informative and helpful information to the most important component that forms part of the matrix of this burgeoning industry-the customers that are using the products that are being unleashed onto the market.

This is important because public safety and health is always important, and therefore making sure that the products that are sold to the public meet the highest safety and health standards is important. Yes, Cannabis Business Africa is in support of this emerging industry as it gives opportunities to entrepreneurs to create wealth for their families and the country at large, creating employment especially for the youth, as well as providing health products for the wellness of the population. However, we will also be the watch dog that makes sure that the public buys safe and wellness products from credible suppliers.

In every issue of Cannabis Business Africa, you will read the success stories of cannabis entrepreneurs, information about the regulatory environment, products launches, investment opportunities in the cannabis sector as well as potential breakthroughs in the on-going research for medicinal cannabis. However, like any serious business publication, you will also read about book reviews, health food reviews, wellness products and service reviews, as well as theatre and visual art reviews, for even the most hard working entrepreneur need time to wind down and enjoy a healthy meal, read an exciting book, or watch a play or movie to recharge.

Welcome to Cannabis Business Africa, the continent’s leading cannabis business and lifestyle publication.

.Edward Tsumele is Publishing Editor of Cannabis Business Africa, and he can be reached at citylifearts@gmail.com

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