Africa’s antidotes against Putin’s retaliatory measures

Bakeries in Burkina Faso are reported to have shut down owing to scarcity of flour because of the Russo-Ukrainian war. NATO’s standoff to call a bluff to Russia’s threat to cut off the supply of crude oil and gas if payments are not made in Rubles has been rendered ineffective as many NATO member countries are retracting for Russian crude.

And to cap it, President Vladimir Putin on May 4, 2022 signed a decree imposing retaliatory economic measures in response to actions by “unfriendly countries.” According to the decree, which was published on the Kremlin’s website, the measures are being taken in order to protect the national interests of Russia due to the “unfriendly and illegitimate actions” of the US and other countries and international organizations that have joined them “aimed at illegally restricting or depriving the Russian Federation, its citizens and Russian legal entities of property rights.”

In addition, “it bans the export of raw materials or products mined or produced in Russia if their end users are sanctioned individuals or entitles.” Political analysts and commentators describe Putin’s action as testing the resolve of Europe to deal with the challenges that could ensue. And to most of us in the developing countries and mostly under the thumb of Western Europe to shun Putin’s Russia, it is strange to learn that Russia happens to be the one out of several countries in the world that is self-sufficient. It produces enough food to feed its people. Russians may not hanker after BMW cars or fanciful automobiles or fashionable products as in the West, but it produces enough of anything to satisfy its over 145million citizens. It produces enough flour to feed most of the world, including Western Europe and some parts of the Americas. It has enough crude to warm its citizens in the cold winter.

The implications of Putin’s decree will result in currency devaluation and inflation never before experienced in the West. And according to experts, for the first time scarcity of flour and other commodities, including such metals as aluminum, among others, is going to stanch the economies of Western Europe to the extent that the upcoming recession will dwarf the effects of the 1929 recession. Europeans will flee to the Americas in their numbers, some commentators claim. Surely the Europeans will find a solution, but the developing countries, especially in Africa will suffer numerous economic  setbacks. Vladimir Putin’s decree is therefore a wakeup call to Africa.

Russia is a well-endowed country having several of the same resources Africa has, and in copious quantities. And its people’s needs are less consumptive than its Western neighbors. This puts Africa in a position to begin to untangle itself of European dominance. African countries are mostly manipulated from metropolitan Europe. Africa’s primary products are priced on the commodity markets of London, Paris and Chicago. Its rich mineral resources are at the disposal of European and American capitalists who cart off their fat profits leaving the continent with little or nothing.  We think Africa might be better off to allow its oil and gold and diamonds remain beneath the surface of the earth than to suffer humiliating, duplicitous and deceitful treatment at the hands of foreign investors. According to economists, a year from now the standard of living of the average European is likely to lower to the extent of making them poorer than he or she can imagine.

In our previous editorials on the Russia’s war with Ukraine we have emphasized the need for Africa to take continental unity more seriously than it has been. Unity without any economic component will remain a mere rhetoric. Intra African trade must now be given more attention in the capitals of the continent than ever before. Africa does not have to import wheat for bread. It does not even have to eat wheat. In the event of unsuitable climatic and soil conditions making it difficult to grow in Africa, there are other alternatives that are equally healthy and even better. Conditions in northern, western and eastern Africa and even parts of South Africa could feed the continent with wheat and export if necessary. Wheat is just one example, but Africa can feed itself without the aid of any western nation.

Conditions are always ripe for industrialization. Surely, foreign direct investment is always welcome, but now that it is dwindling owing to the war in Eastern Europe, Africa needs to survive by using such means as economic specialization. Each of the regions in Africa specializes in one product or the other. West Africa has cocoa for chocolate. It has gold for industrial and other purposes. There is bauxite to convert into aluminum and iron for steel. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a beehive of mineral resources. It produces the bulk of the world’s cobalt and other minerals used in modern gadgets as computers, cell phones and other security equipment. Nigeria, the economic powerhouse of Africa has oil in huge quantities. Grain and cattle, poultry and yams, as well as other sources of protein are all produced in exportable quantities in Nigeria, Botswana, and parts of south, western Africa. Inter-regional cooperation and exchange of commodities among them would soften the blow of the new economic order.

With appropriate and honest leadership Africa can withstand the harsh consequences of Putin’s punitive decree aimed primarily not at Africa. Putin’s fight is with Ukraine; not with Africa. There is still room for Africa to negotiate with Russia for better deals.

Africa has become an appendage to Europe, America and now China, the reality as it is fast approaching demands that we take steps to actualize the African continental free trade pact to enable Africa become a viable partner in world trade. Putin has set in motion a new world order in which every country is a stakeholder.

Posted by on Jun 12 2022. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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