The European Business Council for Africa

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Africa’s real GDP growth is projected to contract by 0.7 percent due to the Ukraine crisis, and inflation is expected to rise by 2.2 percent, pushing more people into food insecurity and poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic, and now the Ukraine crisis, has revealed the economically devastating impact of Africa’s continued dependence on external markets, even for basic agricultural commodities.

Africa imports around US$40 billion worth of food annually and the soaring wheat and sunflower prices in the wake of the Ukraine crisis threaten food security in the region. Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of wheat and sunflower to Africa. Wheat consumption in Africa is projected to reach 76.5 million tonnes by 2025, with 63.4 per cent of this projected figure being imported from outside of the continent. Already the region is facing acute price shocks and supply chain disruptions.

This is compounded by concerns over fertilizer shortages which could potentially disrupt local agricultural production and place further pressures on food security. In a context where Africa accounts for 16 per cent of the global population, the food security implications of the Ukraine crisis could prove even more far-reaching than the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, just as COVID-19 catalyzed collective African action and united response, the current geopolitical crisis must be viewed as an opportunity. With 60 per cent of the world’s arable land, the fastest growing population and an integrated market under the AfCFTA, the opportunity exists for Africa to take the necessary steps to ensure food security through greater intra-African trade and reduce reliance on food imports from outside the continent.


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