Africa faces an “unprecedented” crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has led to soaring food and fuel prices, the United Nations said.
The conflict in Ukraine and Western sanctions on Moscow are disrupting supplies of wheat, fertiliser and other goods, compounding the difficulties Africa already faces from climate change and the coronavirus pandemic.
UNDP Africa chief economist Raymond Gilpin said on Friday, that there is an unprecedented crisis for the continent
“We are seeing a reduction of GDP growth on the continent,” he said.
A widespread surge in inflation poses risks particularly to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone, Gilpin told a press conference in Geneva.
Many African countries depend heavily on food imports and fertiliser from Russia and Ukraine, two major exporters of wheat, corn, rapeseed and sunflower oil. In some African countries, up to 80 percent of wheat came from Russia and Ukraine.
Rising oil prices from the war have also increased fuel and diesel costs.
“With the disruptions that now happen, you see an urgent situation materialise because where do these countries turn overnight for commodities?” UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Africa regional director Ahunna Eziakonwa said.
Rising prices and the slowdown in economic growth are putting millions of households at risk across the continent which includes most of the poorest countries in the world.
Economic difficulties could also exacerbate social tensions in crisis-hit parts of the continent, such as the Sahel, parts of central Africa and Horn of Africa, Gilpin said.