President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina says Africa must prepare for the inevitability of a global food crisis occasioned by the Russia-Ukraine war.
Gatekeepers News reports that Adesina said this while speaking about Africa’s priorities as a guest at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center on Friday.
According to a statement issued by AfDB on Sunday, the bank chief called for an increased sense of urgency amid what he described as a once-in-a-century convergence of global challenges for the continent.
He noted that Africa’s most vulnerable countries had been hit hardest by conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which had upended economic and development progress in Africa.
Adeshina added that Africa, with the lowest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates, had lost as many as 30 million jobs on account of the pandemic.
On the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, the bank chief expressed sympathy for the people of Ukraine, describing their suffering as unimaginable.
He noted that the war’s ramifications spread far beyond Ukraine to other parts of the world, including Africa.
According to him, the Russia and Ukraine supply 30 percent of global wheat exports, the price of which has surged by almost 50 percent globally, reaching identical levels as during the 2008 global food crisis.
He added that fertiliser prices had tripled, and energy prices had increased, all fuelling inflation.
Adesina warned that the tripling costs of fertiliser, rising energy prices, and rising costs of food baskets, could worsen in Africa in the coming months.
He noted that 90 percent of Russia’s $4 billion exports to Africa in 2020 were made up of wheat, 48 percent of Ukraine which is close to $3 billion export to the continent were made up of wheat, and 31 percent of maize.
The AfDB President, therefore, cautioned that to fend off a food crisis, Africa must rapidly expand its food production.
“The African Development Bank is already active in mitigating the effects of a food crisis through the African Food Crisis Response and Emergency Facility – a dedicated facility being considered by the Bank to provide African countries with the resources needed to raise local food production and procure fertiliser.
“My basic principle is that Africa should not be begging. We must solve our own challenges ourselves without depending on others,” Adesina said.