African Economists Sound Alarm On $4 Billion Russia-Ukraine War Trade Impact

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By Jonathan Ntege Lubwama

  • Bilateral trade between Russia and Europe is estimated to be $20B annually with Africa
  • The invasion of Ukraine could pose hardships for African households, the agricultural sector, and food security

Despite the geographical distance, there are important ties between Ukraine and Africa, including more than 8,000 Moroccans and 4,000 Nigerians studying in Ukraine and over $4 billion in exports from Ukraine to Africa. Even though the war is between two European countries, it will have far-reaching effects even for Africans. in the near term, the invasion of Ukraine could pose hardships for African households, the agricultural sector, and food security.  

Why This Matters: Roughly, 20% of students in Ukraine are Africans with Morocco, Nigeria and Egypt accounting for the bulk of them, according to the Irish Times. They were forced to flee the onslaught amid cases of racism and discrimination at the Polish border leading to the hashtag #AfricansInUkraine to bring their plight to life.

In the mid and long-term, the war will still have many negative effects on African countries. Bilateral trade between Russia and Europe is estimated to be $20 billion annually with Africa. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that African countries accounted for 18% of Russia’s arms exports between 2016-2020.

The most devastating effects of the war will be felt in food security. Ukraine and Russia are some of the biggest players in global agricultural trade. Many African governments do not have the industrial ability to support their populations with locally sourced foods and thus depend heavily on food imports. The likes of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Algeria, among others rely heavily on Russia’s wheat with Egypt sourcing an incredible 70% of its wheat from Russia.

What’s Next: If the war is prolonged many African countries could face famine. The likes of Madagascar, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad, Burkina Faso and DRC have already been identified as hunger hotspots by the UN. Their food security was already weakened by the COVID19 pandemic. At this point the fate of the various students forced to flee can not be decided now.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Jonathan Ntege Lubwama

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