How cannabis could unlock $7 billion for South Africa’s economy

August 26, 2019

SOUTH AFRICA could unlock a $7bn cannabis industry if government passes the necessary regulations to make it happen.

The figure was put forward by international experts at a conference held in Sandton last week.

According to the United Nations, South Africa is already the third-largest producer of marijuana and related products (hemp, oils, etc) on the African continent, producing 2,300 tons of the plant annually.

Only 3.5 percent of the population consume the product, the international body said, leaving the bulk of it ready for export to major cannabis consuming (and by-product) markets.

However, to do so, the South African government needs to pass the necessary laws.

Government is currently still working on regulations around the private use of cannabis, after the courts ruled that the act was protected under the constitution in September 2018.

The Constitutional Court gave government two years (from the date of the ruling) to bring the country’s laws around cannabis use in line with the constitution.

Legislation around cultivation remains unclear, however.

The government has de-scheduled some types of cannabis health products, with conditions, making them easier to get hold of.

Cannabis products considered to be health supplements are those containing a daily dose of less than 20mg cannabidiol (CBD), as well as those containing less than 0.001 percent of THC, or less than 0.0075 percent CBD.

These products may be bought and sold relatively freely as a result of the exemption published in the Government Gazette on 23 May 2019.

In May and June of this year, both the Western Cape and Eastern Cape governments revealed plans to make the provinces the headline destinations for the country’s cannabis industries, pending favourable regulatory outcomes.

Both these provinces have been identified as having the ideal conditions for cannabis cultivation in the country, with proposals and feasibility studies already underway.

However, until the many grey areas in the regulation of cannabis have been clarified, the basic legal position on cannabis in South Africa is as follows:

You may use it for your personal recreational or medicinal use, alone or with friends and family over the age of 18, in spaces not open to groups other than your own.Grow only as much as necessary for your personal use; where unsure, rather be conservative.Other than in the case of specific health supplements and processed hemp fibre detailed above, buying and selling cannabis or any cannabis-containing product is currently not legally permissible.


Promoting African tourism.

August 24, 2019

Tourism has, over the past six decades, experienced continued expansion and diversification, becoming one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world, turning it into a key driver of socio-economic progress through export revenues, the creation of jobs and enterprises, and infrastructure development.

The increasing importance of this sector cannot be overstated.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, international tourist arrivals worldwide will reach 1.8 billion by 2030, indicating an increase of 3.3 per cent a year from 2010. Between 2010 and 2030 arrivals in emerging destinations such as Ghana are expected to increase at double the pace of that in advanced economies by 4.4 per cent a year.

However, these forecasts do not necessarily mean that tourists will descend on Ghana like the biblical manna from heaven. The competition to attract tourist traffic is fierce. Countries like South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania –  already popular holiday destinations –  have, over the years, embarked on relentless marketing strategies to woo even more tourists. Some like Kenya and Zimbabwe have dedicated tourist offices in parts of Europe, North America and Asia. These strategies have focused on their natural resource of game parks and safaris in which they have a comparative advantage.

I have had the good fortune to travel to many of Africa’s tourism hotspots and experienced their breath-taking beauty and exciting attractions. Ghana cannot compete with them but offers something unique – its cultural heritage. Its major slave forts are Unesco World Heritage Sites.

These slave forts are a ‘must-see’ for every tourist visiting Ghana, especially the African-Americans.  President Barack Obama, on his trip to Ghana – his first to Africa as president – in July 2009, visited the Elmina Castle with his family. Earlier this month, US Senate Speaker Nancy Pelosi described as a ‘transformative experience’, the time spent in Ghana’s coastal city of Cape Coast and its slave fort, saying it was revealing not only for her but for the Congressional team she led to the site.

It’s 400 years since the first African slaves were taken from countries like Ghana to mainland America, marking the start of the trans-Atlantic slave trade route. This timing is based on the first recorded landing of a ship carrying Africans in Virginia in August 1619.  An estimated 75 percent of slave dungeons on the west coast of Africa were in Ghana — millions of people were taken and transported on ships that departed from Ghanaian ports.

To commemorate this Ghana has designated 2019 as the Year of Return. The government has been running a massive marketing campaign targeting African-Americans and the diaspora, and various events have been arranged. The focus has been on memorialising the liberation from slavery. But it has also served as a marketing exercise to popularise Ghana as a tourism destination with Trans-Atlantic trade appeal.

But visiting Ghana is not just about slave forts. Beyond these lie the comparative advantage of an extraordinarily rich cultural heritage.

Ghana is a country whose immense cultural diversity is thrilling and fascinating, particularly the central role played by festivals. Barely a week or month goes by without a festival being celebrated by one of the 100 or so ethnic groups up and down the country.

In addition to this, rites and rituals are performed throughout the year covering key events like harvests, child-birth, puberty, marriage and death. To the majority of people, these celebrations provide the satisfying bond that binds their communities and families together.

Such festivals are also full of colour, pageantry and rhythm, the latter provided by traditional drummers.

By exposing western visitors to Ghana’s vibrant culture, just like the Masai of Kenya, we can also educate them about the country’s history and how democratic structures existed from clan to chiefdom levels long before the advent of colonialism.

Although statistics on cultural tourism are not readily available, various surveys indicate that culture is one of the reasons why people choose to travel. Ghana’s authorities are well aware of their country’s immense cultural wealth. That is why they must effectively market it for the benefit of the nation.

When some of the most well-known faces from the African diaspora arrived for a vacation in Ghana’s capital, Accra last December, it looked like just another gathering of famous people.

Actors including Idris Elba rubbed shoulders with supermodel Naomi Campbell, TV sports presenter Mike Hill, and author Luvvie Ajayi.

Behind this meet-up of box office stars, fashion royalty and top creatives is a focused and ambitious strategy to make Ghana a major tourist destination.

The country recently unveiled a 15-year-long tourism plan that seeks to increase the annual number of tourists to Ghana from one million to eight million per year by 2027.  Ghana’s travel industry is projected to raise $8.3 billion a year by 2027, plus associated benefits, according to the plan.

Jon Offei-Ansah is the Founder and Publisher of Africa Briefing, the London-based pan-African newsmagazine (

UK aid to break down barriers for female entrepreneurs in Africa

August 26, 2019

THE UK is to provide £30 million in aid to empower female entrepreneurs and businesswomen across Africa. The aid will provide business advice, training and financial support to back women-led businesses supporting economic growth across the continent.

A statement released over the weekend by the Department for International Development (DfID) said an equal role for women in the economy is essential to sustained growth and will help lift millions out of poverty. Experts estimate that advancing economic equality globally could add $12 trillion (or 11 per cent) to the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The amount will go towards the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme run by the African Development Bank.

The statement added that despite having the highest concentration of female entrepreneurs in the world, women in a number of African countries face greater barriers to starting their own businesses than their male peers. This is because women often find it harder to access further education, get business loans, sign contracts and own property based on their gender.

Increased funding through UK aid will incentivise African banks across the continent to lend to women by reducing the costs, while providing expert training to female entrepreneurs in essential skills to make their businesses a success.

Research shows that women typically reinvest up to 90 per cent of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their family and community, compared to 40 per cent for men. This means that investing in female-led businesses can transform societies as well as women’s lives.

By leveraging the economic potential of tens of thousands of women, the UK aid will:

  • Provide up to 10,000 budding female entrepreneurs with essential training and mentoring to help them better manage their businesses, including marketing, financial and business planning.
  • Start partnerships with up to 30 banks across Africa, helping to bring down the cost and incentivise lending to thousands of women.
  • Transform women’s job opportunities and boost African economies to help countries become our trading partners and build their future beyond aid.

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: ‘Every woman deserves the same opportunities as her male peers to start and build a business. But this is not just about equal opportunities. By breaking down barriers and unleashing the potential of women across Africa, UK aid is supporting the private sector to thrive, helping nations across the continent to increase economic growth and shape their own future beyond aid.

‘By investing in the economic empowerment of African women, we are investing in ending poverty, and in developing Britain’s trading partners of the future.’

The UK aims to be the biggest G7 investor in Africa by 2022. The announcement builds on the UK’s existing partnerships with African nations to create mutual trade and investment opportunities, ahead of the UK-Africa Investment Summit which is due to take place in London next year.