'Collateral victim': On Africa Day, shadow of Ukraine war looms large over continent

Russia-Ukraine conflict has created perfect storm, revealed fragility of African economies, say African Union, UN heads

Addis Getachew   | 25.05.2022
'Collateral victim': On Africa Day, shadow of Ukraine war looms large over continent

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia 

Africa, a homeland of 1.3 billion people, has become a “collateral victim” of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, further denting the continent’s ability to fulfill its “enormous promise and potential,” top officials of the African Union and United Nations said in messages for Africa Day.

The day marks the anniversary of the foundation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963, which became the African Union in July 2002.

“Africa has become the collateral victim of a distant conflict, that between Russia and Ukraine. By profoundly upsetting the fragile global geopolitical and geostrategic balance, it has also cast a harsh light on the structural fragility of our economies,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission.

“The most emblematic sign of these fragilities is the food crisis following the climatic disorders, the health crisis of COVID-19, amplified today by the conflict in Ukraine. This crisis is characterized by a shrinking world supply of agricultural products and a soaring inflation of food prices.”

He said Africa remains embroiled in a ceaseless struggle against “terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime – human, drugs and arms trafficking.”

“Terrorism in particular is constantly gaining ground. Today, many states devote a good part of their resources and energies to fighting or protecting themselves against this phenomenon, depriving vital sectors such as health and education of the resources they need,” said Mahamat.

“Africa also is also faced with the disasters generated by bad governance, which can no longer be concealed by the demand for transparency imposed by a population that is increasingly open to the world through the new information and communication technologies.”

In his message, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned that the “war in Ukraine is creating a perfect storm for developing countries, especially in Africa.”

“This crisis is resulting in soaring costs for food, energy and fertilizer with devastating consequences on nutrition and food systems, while making it even more difficult for the continent to mobilize the financial resources needed to invest in its people,” he said.

However, Guterres also recognized Africa as “a home for hope,” hailing the “enormous promise and potential of this diverse and dynamic continent.”

“The prospects on the horizon are bright – from Africa’s growing and vibrant youth population, to initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Decade of Women’s Financial and Economic Inclusion, and the African Union’s bold vision for the future, Agenda 2063,” he said.​​​​​​​

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