Russia-Ukraine war has ‘very real effect’ on African nations: S Africa President

Ramaphosa made the remarks after he returned from Ukraine and Russia as part of a delegation from seven African countries

Johannesburg: The notion that the nations on the African continent are not impacted by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine is a “misconception”, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday, asserting that the conflict has a “very real effect” on their economies.

Ramaphosa made the remarks after he returned from Ukraine and Russia as part of a delegation from seven African countries on a mission to promote the nearly 16-month-old conflict’s peaceful resolution.

The mission comprised the presidents of Senegal, Comoros, Zambia and South Africa, as well as the Prime Minister of Egypt and envoys from the Republic of Congo and Uganda.

MS Education Academy

“There is a misconception that this conflict is far removed from the realities of our own country. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is having a very real effect on African countries and economies,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter.

“We made the point to the Ukrainian and Russian Presidents that while we undertook this mission as members of the international community committed to peacebuilding, we as the African continent also have a material interest in seeing a resolution to the conflict,” he said.

“Both Russia and Ukraine are major suppliers of grains and producers of fertiliser destined for African markets,” Ramaphosa said, and quoting the African Development Bank, added that the conflict has “triggered a shortage of about 30 million tonnes of grains on the African continent, along with a sharp increase in cost.”

He said that as a result of the conflict, African countries are negatively affected by the rising costs of food and energy. Ramaphosa added that supply chain disruptions have also caused a shortage of farming inputs such as fertilisers, threatening the food security of several African countries.

“Another point of the peace proposal being put forward by African leaders is for the opening up of the movement of grains across the Black Sea for grains from Russia or Ukraine to reach world markets,” the president said.

Ramaphosa described the initiative as “historic” because it was the first time that African leaders had embarked on a peace mission beyond the shores of the continent.

“Although the delegation comprised countries that have taken diverse positions on the various UN resolutions on the conflict, the countries represented have all taken a non-aligned stance on this issue. This has lent credibility to the mission and engendered trust from both sides,” he said.

South Africa has been under increasing pressure from the US to take an anti-Russia stance, with the government publicly announcing that it will not be “bullied” into doing so. This was despite threats of possible sanctions by the US that could seriously impact the South African economy.

The African delegation met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the capital Kyiv on Friday and with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg on Saturday to present a ten-point proposal.

“We, as African leaders, believe (that this) can contribute to various efforts that have been made by various parties to bring the conflict to an end,” Ramaphosa said.

“Included in the proposal being put forward as part of the African Peace Initiative are calls for a de-escalation of fighting and for negotiations to commence with urgency; for the release of prisoners of war and return of children; for greater humanitarian support; and for reconstruction efforts to be prioritised,” he added.

Ramaphosa said that both Presidents, Zelenskyy and Putin, agreed to further engagements following this initial visit.

“The toll on human life, the extensive destruction and the ripple effect it has had on the global economy mean that no country has been shielded. The conflict has caused instability, precipitated a humanitarian crisis and sent shockwaves through vulnerable economies,” the South African president said.

“As engagements with both parties and African leaders continue, it is our hope that as the process moves forward, a foundation can be set for a de-escalation of the conflict and negotiation, the two crucial preconditions for a lasting peace,” Ramaphosa concluded in his message.

Chances for peace talks between Ukraine and Russia look dim as both countries take sharply different stands.

Back to top button