• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Putin and Africa’s food security

Putin offers to host next BRICS summit in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin courted leaders from Africa at a summit on July 27-28 2023 in Saint Petersburg, hailing the continent’s growing role in global affairs and offering to expand political and business ties.

This is an empty talk to leaders held hostage by the interrupted flow of grains from luscious farmlands of Ukrainian land.

Africa’s role in global politics is indeed weakened by the grain scarcity caused by Moscow’s special military operations in Ukraine.

Addressing the Russia-Africa summit for a second day, Putin said Moscow would closely analyze a peace proposal for Ukraine that African leaders have sought to pursue.

African countries have suddenly become pawn in the power game between the Super powers. The scenario and story would have been different if Africa is self sufficient in grains and fertilizers coming out the ports of the Black Sea. “This is an acute issue, and we aren’t evading its consideration,” the Russian leader said, emphasizing that his government was treating the African initiative with respect and “looking at it attentively.”

According to the authoritative French Newspaper ‘Le Monde’ The expected family photograph of an Africa gathered around the head of the Kremlin under the banner of a “multipolar world” is crucial in this undertaking of diplomatic rehabilitation by President Vladimir Putin. His desire to resuscitate the old USSR has taken a knock as the West is effectively looking forward to a stalemated war that would force Putin to the negotiation table.

The first Russo African conference in 2019 drew in 43 leaders but about 17 leaders attended this year conference. Everybody seems to be tired with Putin’s war in the face of global

Read also: ASR Africa begins construction of N1bn centre in UI

Existential Challenge and Shame of Africa:

According to figures from the London School of Economics, the GDP of Russia is of the same order of magnitude as the combined GDP of Belgium and the Netherlands. In 2017 Russian GDP was 1,469 billion dollars (according to the International Monetary Fund). Belgium had a GDP of 491 billion dollars and the Netherlands 824 billion dollars; together $ 1,315 billion. In GDP terms, Russia is only 12 per cent larger than Belgium plus the Netherlands.

US GDP reached US$ 19 362 billion in 2017. With GDP as a yardstick, the US is 13 times bigger than Russia. In the same way, other countries can be compared with Russia. China is economically 8 times larger than Russia; Germany 2.5 times more, France 1.8 more, and the European Union as a whole is 12 times bigger than Russia.

Russia is not a major player in the field of military spending. To have a certain military weight, that country must reserve a much larger share of its GDP for defence than the other countries. To mean something militarily, Russia has to put a heavy burden on its own economy.

The figures from the LSE and World Bank also show that the Russian Federation is an economic lightweight inviting a whole continent for talks where she would be sitting at the head of the table . Is Africa a big for nothing continent? Is the African renaissance a reality or a fluke ? How can a country with economy size of Italy call the leaders of a whole continent for talk bothering on economic growth and cooperation where West Africa as a region should be engaging Putin instead of all of the cradle of mankind.

Fast forward to 2022 :

Worldwide gross domestic product in 2022 was at about 12,749 USD per capita. GDP in Russia, on the other hand, reached USD 15,618 per capita, or 2.240 trillion USD for the whole country. Russia is one of the world’s largest economies and is currently at rank 8.

As of 2022, the GDP of Africa was estimated at roughly 3.1 trillion U.S. dollars. This was the highest value since 2010 when the continent’s GDP amounted to approximately 2.1 trillion . The continent must pull it’s weight by collaborating across regions to create necessary traction to be recognized as a true economic power house.

African countries seem to be carried away by Russia’s military might caused by heavy spending on defense at the detriment of economic growth.

The continent should see the present challenge as an opportunity to jointly address the food security challenge instead of going to the Russians pan in hand asking for economic assistance.

Another critical take out from the summit is the importance of regional blocs and economic sustainability. Is the African Continental Free Trade Area a reality or a paper idea that is bound to die on the shelves. The Lagos plan of action in the 1980s never materialised , Africa must come together to secure her food future and avoid global embarrassment.

Michael Umogun is a Chartered Marketer with interest in public policy.