Jump to navigation

Power politics could derail vital grain deal for Africa

Moscow may cancel the foodstuffs supply accord as Ukraine steps up its diplomacy in Africa and the Global South

The future of the UN-brokered grain deal that has allowed over 30 million tonnes of foodstuffs to be exported from Ukraine across the Black Sea to Africa and the Middle East since July 2022 is threatened by another round of political grandstanding. For now, it has been extended by a further two months but could easily be stopped after that with western powers and Moscow blaming each other for the failure (AC Vol 63 No 20, Geopolitical divides take centre stage at the UN).

Russia has been threatening to withdraw from the agreement blaming the impact of western sanctions on its economy. That stance is prompting concern from African ministers who remain reliant on Ukrainian grain.

Regional diplomats say concerns on food supply caused by Moscow's invasion of Ukraine were a key driving force behind the South African-led peace initiative announced last week.

At a meeting in Moscow with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on 18 May, Uganda's foreign minister Jeje Odongo, told a joint news conference that he had urged parties involved to consider the plight of 'many African countries, who depend on grain for wheat and bread.'

'Quite a number of African countries, particularly in the northern part of Africa, depend on grain, particularly for wheat and bread. We understand their plight. But we think whatever should be done, should be done in the interests of those in need and not to use their need to the advantage of others.' Odongo said at the news conference.

Having been several steps behind Moscow in the battle for diplomatic influence in Africa in the months following Russia's invasion, Ukraine is now actively stepping up its diplomatic presence in the continent, opening new embassies in Rwanda, MozambiqueCôte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Angola. Kyiv is working on hosting a Ukraine-Africa conference this summer.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky have agreed to separate meetings with leaders from Zambia, Senegal, Congo-Brazzaville, Uganda and Egypt to discuss a possible plan to end the war, as part of the 'peace mission' proposed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Zambia and Egypt were the only two of the six to vote in favour of last year's UN resolution condemning Russia's invasion.

Related Articles

Geopolitical divides take centre stage at the UN

New policy statements on Africa from Washington and Brussels are being measured against sluggish actions on debt and climate policy

Russia's war on Ukraine dominated the best attended UN General Assembly for years – much to the detriment of progress on preparations for the COP27 climate summit and a more ...

Sparring for a jab

Trade and production deals may help the region’s vaccination drive in the short term more than lobbying for changes to the IP and patent laws

The challenge to access vaccines against Covid-19 is not just an African problem, it is a global battle. But it has shone a spotlight on the complexities that Africa faces when it ...


On the cybermap

New telecommunications technology may be expensive but it's coming to Africa – fast

The internet and Africa might look like an odd couple, when only 12 million out of around 700 million people have telephones. Yet there is great excitement in Africa about the new ...

Seoul’s new strategy

A new five-year aid plan sets out Seoul’s goal of matching its economic strength in the diplomatic arena

South Korea is beginning to take its trade and aid more seriously, and Africa stands to benefit. The Seoul government’s hosting of the G-20 Summit in November again shifted the deb...