Rwanda on Course to Regularise Commercial Production of Cannabis for Medical Purposes

The Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Ngamije confirmed Rwanda’s plans to enter commercial production of Cannabis for pharmaceutical purposes.

Rwanda is on course to join several African countries that are cashing in on the commercial production of Cannabis following the passing of the National Pharmaceutical Product Pricing and Containment policy.

The policy which was passed by a cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Monday will see Rwanda join a group of African countries which are already partaking in the multibillion-dollar commercial Marijuana industry.

The Minister of Health Dr Daniel Ngamije, while appearing on the national television on Tuesday confirmed that Rwanda is working on licensing the commercial growth of the plant but only for medicinal reasons while recreational use of the drug will remain illegal.

He said that Cannabis is among the plants which were growing in Rwanda already which will now be grown commercially to facilitate research and the industrial manufacturing of medicines that come from those plants.

“We are yet to find a Kinyarwanda name for it,” Dr Ngamije said, avoiding using the local name ‘Urumogi’, which is used to refer to Marijuana for recreational use which is illegal.

“Yeah, but it is true, among those medicinal plants is a plant which many call Cannabis which will be strictly grown for export to pharmaceutical industries abroad which convert the different strains into medicine and also for research,”

“Commercial growth of the plant will not create the void for drug users to abuse it. It will be done in an organised way. The existing penal laws will continue to be enforced in regard to abuse for recreational purposes,” Dr Ngamije said, adding that Rwanda will focus on research for medical use of the plant and export.

Following the passing of the policy by cabinet, a leaked call for investors by Rwanda Development Board (RDB) gives a detailed concept and operational plan for the production of pharmaceutical and therapeutic cannabis.

“The Government of Rwanda through the Rwanda Development Board and the National Agriculture Export Board (NAEB) is considering the development of a medical cannabis industry in Rwanda targeting medicinal and therapeutic products,”

“With a focus on export markets and value addition, the government seeks to participate in the economic opportunities that this growing sector offers. Today a significant number of interested parties have subsequently and formally expressed an interest and now the Government of Rwanda now calls upon interested parties to submit detailed business concepts,” the call reads.

The call also highlights the comparative advantage Rwanda has to offer, stating that the country has “all endowments necessary to be globally competitive in the production and processing of cannabis”, given the ideal climate conditions that can favour the growth of the plant.

In a bid to entice investors, RDB and NAEB say the constant moderate temperatures, favour the growth of the plant, since the optimal day temperature range for cannabis is 24 to 30 degrees as well as long and stable sunlight allows the growth of cannabis.

With favourable climate conditions, from temperature to rainfall and good terrain, Rwanda hopes to join the likes of Lesotho, Morocco, Kenya and Zimbabwe among African countries which are raking in millions of dollars in cannabis exports.

Rwanda is also counting on the availability of skilled workers at moderate cost, security and stability and ease of doing business to attract investors in the lucrative cannabis industry.

Cannabis on a commercial facility.

“The expected economic return from Cannabis production and export would include but not limited to bolstering Rwanda’s rapid export revenue growth to strengthen the balance of payments, job and business creation as well as community Development near production and processing zones,” the call which was sent to specific investors reads.

Highly regulated

A source privy to the developments told KT Press that the government will issue a detailed security plan which will ensure that the drug is not abused.

For one to engage in commercial production of Cannabis, they must be licensed by the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority (FDA), while production zones are expected to be under tight security on the farm and throughout the production chain. All products will be 100% exported.

Efforts to get a comment from RDB CEO were futile by press time as she told KT Press that the government body charged with promoting investment would issue further details on how the production value chain of commercial marijuana will work.

Rwanda will join African countries tapping into the lucrative marijuana market. According to a UN survey, more than 10, 000 tons of cannabis are produced on the continent each year, which could be worth billions of dollars in a rapidly expanding global market for legal cannabis.

As of May 2020, the global total cannabis market, regulated and illicit, was estimated to be $344 billion, with Asia leading continents cashing in more than any other continent, raking in $132.9 billion. Africa is fourth with $37.3 billion.




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