Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), says Africa must prepare for the inevitability of a global food crisis occasioned by the Russia-Ukraine war.
According to a statement issued by AfDB on Sunday, Adesina said this while speaking about Africa’s priorities as a guest at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center on Friday.
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 Africa.
Adesina said the continent’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.
He said Africa, with the lowest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates, had lost as many as 30 million jobs on account of the pandemic.
Speaking about the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, Adesina expressed sympathy for the people of Ukraine, describing their suffering as unimaginable.
He said the war’s ramifications spread far beyond Ukraine to other parts of the world, including Africa.
He explained that 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 fertilizer prices had tripled, and energy prices had increased, all fuelling inflation.
Adesina warned that the tripling costs of fertilizer, 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 was made up of wheat; and 48 percent of Ukraine’s near $3 billion exports to the continent was made up of wheat and 31 percent of maize.
Adesina 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 fertilizer,” Adesina said.
“My basic principle is that Africa should not be begging. We must solve our own challenges ourselves without depending on others.”