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Economic Impact of the Russia Ukraine War on Africa

The armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine could have a significant economic impact on the African continent in the long run; from the displacement of refugees to the fluctuations in commodity prices. In this article, we'll discuss why it is pertinent for African countries to be aware of the ongoing conflict and how it will affect them.

What is the Russia Ukraine War and Why is it Important to Africa?

Since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, which toppled Ukraine's elected President Viktor Yanukovych and his supporters because he refused to sign a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union that had majority support in Ukraine's parliament, relations between the two countries have been tense.

Instead of continuing to play the delicate diplomatic game of balancing its own economic and security interests with those of Russia, the EU, and NATO members, Ukraine's post-revolutionary administration wanted to commit the country to a future within the EU and NATO.

The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia were the first countries to join the EU in 2004, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007.

The Russian leadership was concerned that Ukraine's EU and NATO membership would complete a western wall of allies by preventing Russia's access to the Black Sea. The Russian government was afraid that Russia was being ring-fenced by potentially hostile states because South Korea and Japan were allies of the United States.

Following the Dignity Revolution, Russia backed separatist militias in the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic in a battle in Ukraine's economically vital Donbas area, which borders Russia on the east. The ethnic majority in this area is Russian. The Russo-Ukrainian War had killed over 13,000 people by early 2022, prompting Western sanctions on Russia.

Since February 24, 2022, Russia and Ukraine have had no formal diplomatic relations. The Russian Federation and Ukraine are at war right now: the Russo-Ukrainian War broke out in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine. Russia invaded Ukraine across a broad front in February 2022.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the successor governments' bilateral relations have been marked by ties, tensions, and open hostility. Ukraine's strategy in the early 1990s was characterized by aspirations for sovereignty and independence, followed by a foreign policy that balanced collaboration with the EU, Russia, and other large polities.

In Ukraine, almost 20% of students are African, and they have reportedly faced prejudice and discrimination on the ground.

Through food imports and tourism, Africa's economies are tied to those of Russia and Ukraine.

Without proper access to wheat, corn, and oil imports, food prices and global food insecurity will undoubtedly rise, wreaking havoc on North Africa, with Egypt alone buying 70% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine.

The Economic Impact of the Russia Ukraine War on Africa

African nationals on the ground are seeing the immediate effects of the war, with reports of bigotry and discrimination while attempting to exit the country. As a result of this conflict, immediate humanitarian evacuation of Africans back to the continent will be needed. Such a move although very necessary will be very costly and owing to the fact that such an expense was envisaged in the yearly budget of the African countries concerned.

The conflict's influence on food security and hunger rates, both globally and within Ukraine, is becoming a significant source of worry.

Following an inflow of asylum seekers, the demand for humanitarian help in Ukraine and its surrounding countries is growing, as is the demand for food. So far, about 500,000 people have fled Ukraine, and the World Food Programme is assisting around 3.1 million people in need of food in and around the country.

As both Ukraine and Russia are important exporters of cereal grains and vegetable oil, food prices are projected to rise globally and hunger to rise. North Africa is anticipated to be the most affected region on the African continent; it is a region that is heavily reliant on Russia and Ukraine for cereal grains like wheat and corn and will be severely hit if grains cannot be imported.

Russia and Ukraine together supply nearly 30% of the world's wheat, with Ukraine being the world's fourth-largest wheat and corn supplier. The battle would obstruct access to these grains, damaging African countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, and Algeria that rely on it to feed their people.

Due to the greatest drought in decades in the north of the continent, and certain countries lacking the industrial capacity to feed their populations with locally found food, these countries have grown to rely significantly on food imports from Russia and Ukraine to protect inhabitants from going hungry.

Aid agencies rely on wheat and cereal grains for famine relief in regions across Africa that are already on the verge of disaster. Madagascar, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad, Burkina Faso, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are among the African countries that have been designated as hunger hotspots by the UN because they are on the verge of starvation and require access to such emergency goods.


The war facing Ukraine with Russia has not had a significant effect on Africa's trade relations with Russia, but it does affect Africa's trade relations with European countries. The article explores the myriad of ways Russia may use to punish western countries for sanctions and countersanctions, but there is no evidence that Russia is targeting or punishing African countries at all.

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