Skip to content

The Economic Effects of Russia’s Invasion on Africa

As Russian troops tear through Ukraine, swathes of Africa are gearing up to bear the brunt of a potentially drawn-out conflict between the ex-Soviet republics — two of some of the continent’s most cherished trading partners. African economists sound the alarm over a looming and likely catastrophic lowering of trade volumes between the continent and its warring partners if Russia’s widely condemned incursion into Ukraine isn’t short-lived. Parts of Africa could be plunged into hunger in as fast as three months if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine lingers, says Wandile Sihlobo, the Chief Economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa. Sihlobo explains that the Ukraine war also comes at a bad time for Africa given the current experience of a severe drought in its eastern subregion, which has taken a hit on food prices. Africa’s biggest economies such as Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, and Kenya are major importers of Russia’s agricultural exports, putting them at risk of further spikes in food prices if trade is disrupted. Sihlobo adds that sanctions targeted at Russia could also complicate Africa’s exports. “Africa exports fruits and vegetables to Russia and Ukraine. Seven percent of South Arica’s citrus goes to Russia, 14 percent of South Africa’s apples and pears goes to Russia. Egypt and Tunisia also export fruits and vegetables to Russia. The challenge with all of these countries is that with all of the sanctions that are placed on Russia by the US and European countries, it influences the financial services sector… even if the logistics will not be immediately affected, it will disrupt the payment system to all of the exporting countries to Russia,” he told CNN.