Prof. George Wajackoyah, an immigration lawyer, is one of four candidates cleared to run for the Presidency in this year’s General Elections. He has attracted attention for his campaign platform – which hinges on the cultivation of maríjuana for commercial purposes and medicinal use.
His campaign has earned the support of numerous Kenyans and sparked a wave of spontaneous support that has seen a surge in Wajackoyah-branded materials including shirts and banners. It has attracted the attention of political bigwigs including Jubilee Vice-Chair David Murathe, who stated in a recent interview that ‘Wajackoyah’s numbers make sense’ as he urged the Azimio la Umoja coalition candidate Raila Odinga to consider the proposals on legalization of maríjuana.
Wajackoyah has argued that commercial cultivation of maríjuana would enable the country to quickly clear its external debt to countries such as China. He has based his arguments on the growing international market for maríjuana and the fast-evolving regulation around it.
The global market for legal maríjuana is expected to reach almost $43 billion (Ksh5.6 Trillion) by 2024. By 2027, the demand for legal maríjuana in Europe alone is projected to hit $37 billion, up from $3.5 billion in 2019 – an almost 30% CAGR.
This has opened up an opportunity for African countries to cultivate the plant, primarily for export. Here, Business Today explores some of the African countries that have allowed the commercial cultivation of maríjuana.
Africa is particularly suited to cultivation of the plant due to its climatic conditions. The plant reacts well to warm and sunny weather and does not do well in cold environments.
In 2017, Lesotho became the first African country to issue an administrative license for the commercial cultivation of maríjuana for medical and scientific purposes. Several other nations on the continent have since followed suit.
Other nations which have issued similar licenses to various companies include Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, eSwatini, Zambia, Uganda, and Rwanda. Ghana has also authorized maríjuana production, but only for varieties with THC levels of 0.3% or less.
In the cases of Uganda and Rwanda, the plant is cultivated strictly for export.
Countries such as Malawi and Zimbabwe are top tóbacco exporters, and analysts and policymakers hope that maríjuana could establish itself as a leading cash crop, with global tóbacco consumption on a steady decline.
In other countries such as Tanzania and Kenya, maríjuana is not legal but large amounts of the crop are still grown, consumed and exported.