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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Opportunities and challenges for Africa from Western sanctions on Russia

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As the Russia-Ukraine conflict drags on, the United States, Nato, and its Western allies have resorted to an economic warfare against Russia by imposing various curbs and sanctions.

These range from Russian banks being excluded from the SWIFT payments system that underpins global transactions, freezing Russian assets, introducing travel bans, blocking Russian access to computer chips, computers, and other high-tech products. Russian currency. the Rouble, has collapsed up to 30-40 percent, which has led President Vladimir Putin to equate the imposition of sanctions by the West akin to a ‘declaration of war’.

Western sanctions on Russia are bound to have an adverse impact on African economies and its security landscape by offering both challenges and opportunities for African countries. One of the most pronounced effect of sanctions and associated supply chain disruptions will be the surge in global commodity prices, particularly for oil and wheat.

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Russia and Ukraine account for nearly 30 percent of global wheat exports, which is a staple food for African consumers. Most of this wheat is imported into Egypt and then distributed across the rest of the continent. Wheat and other commodities like crude oil and fertilisers are shipped to Africa from the various ports along the Black Sea, which is a major artery for the movement of commodities.

This has led to legitimate concerns over a blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and a subsequent rise in food prices and fears of inflation, particularly in those African countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Sudan that are dependent on wheat imports from the Black Sea region..

However, there are some opportunities as well for African countries. Western sanctions to deny Russia’s access to European oil and gas markets could prove to be a boon for oil-producing African countries, provided they seize this opportunity.

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With European countries now looking to diversify their import basket and reduce their dependence on Russian imports, countries like Algeria, Angola, and Mozambique could emerge as alternate choices.

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