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Russia strikes Ukraine in war of neighbours. Why Africa should be concerned

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 is casting a long shadow across Africa – a devastating effect on some African states, threatening their economies and could also benefit the continent in some ways.


As devastating as it is, some African countries may benefit from a shift in global markets away from Russia due to the crisis. The short-term potential impacts on economic livelihoods are worrying while the implications for pan-African solidarity and adherence to multilateralism are increasingly uncertain.


There are important ties between Ukraine and Africa, including more than 8,000 Moroccans and 4,000 Nigerians studying in Ukraine and over $4 billion in exports from Ukraine to Africa.


Though, African leaders have come under diplomatic pressure to take sides in the escalating feud between Russia and Western powers, African Union (AU) has called on Russia to respect international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty.


In a statement on Feb. 24, AU chair Macky Sall and AU Commission chair Moussa Faki called on Russia and Ukraine to establish a ceasefire and open political negotiations “to preserve the world from the consequences of planetary conflict.”
Kenya, Gabon, and Ghana spoke out against the escalating conflict at an emergency meeting for the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 21, but most African countries have remained quiet.

South Africa, on Feb. 23 asked Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.


How will the ongoing conflict affect Africans?

Russia is one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers. The sanctions on Russia, especially by the United States of America, would linger inflation, high prices of gas in the countries which is a giant headache for American President, Joe Biden.


With this, few countries are sensing long-term growth opportunities from the crisis specifically, Africa’s natural gas could reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.


The budgets of oil-producing countries like Nigeria and Angola might get a boost from the rising prices, but the cost of transport is likely to rise for people across the continent. This will have a knock-on effect on the prices of nearly all other products.


“It becomes a double whammy of potentially higher food prices globally and higher energy prices pushing up inflation. And when central banks respond by hiking interest rates, it becomes a triple whammy,” said Charlie Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital.


But the editor of the UK-based Africa Confidential publication, Patrick Smith, said the war offered massive opportunities for oil- and gas-producing countries.


“Europe has to rapidly find alternatives to Russian gas, and the most reliable alternatives are in Africa. It’s a great opportunity for African states to move in, and get new deals done quickly,” he added.


Besides natural gas, further sanctions on Russia might benefit other natural resource exporters in the region. For instance, South Africa is, after Russia, the world’s second-biggest producer of palladium—a critical input into automobiles and electronics—and therefore could experience growing demand as a result of international sanctions placed on Russia. Similarly, as a major exporter of gold, the South African rand has been strengthening as a result of rising global prices for precious metals.


Several other countries could similarly benefit from Europe’s energy diversification, including Senegal, where 40 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were discovered between 2014 and 2017 and where production is expected to start later this year. Nigeria, already a supplier of liquified natural gas (LNG) to several European countries, is also embarking with Niger and Algeria on the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline to increase exports of natural gas to European markets. On February 16, the three countries signed an agreement to develop the pipeline, estimated to cost $13 billion. Europe is likely to be a key financer, bolstered by the EU’s controversial decision in early February to label investments in natural gas as “green” energy.

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COVID-19: Friendship renewed as Algeria opens land border with Tunisia

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Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune has announced that it will reopen the land border between the two countries in mid-July.

The border, which starts in the north at the Mediterranean coast, proceeding overland in a broadly southwards directions via a series of overland lines was closed in 2020 during the peak of Covid-19.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune made the announcement at Algiers airport alongside his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied who was preparing to leave the country after attending the festivities marking the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

“We have taken a joint decision to reopen the land borders from July 15.”

Until the pandemic, more than three million Algerians travelled to Tunisia each year, according to local media.

Generally speaking, relations between Algeria and Tunisia have so far been homogenous. Although Algeria postponed the opening of it borders with Tunisia in May.

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The Gambia benefits from World Bank’s $68m grant to revive tourism industry

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The Gambia and the World Bank have sealed a $68m grant deal which will go to support the West African country’s tourism industry, hitherto the biggest contributor to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), before the Coronavirus pandemic hit the global tourism sector, causing a near economic meltdown.

World Bank’s Managing Director of Operations, Axel Van Trotsenburg, who announced the signing of the deal at a ceremony in Gambia’s capital, Banjul, on Tuesday, said the grant is meant to support the diversification and climate resilience of the country’s tourism after the pandemic and economic crisis.

Trotsenburg added that promoting the diversification and climate resilience of tourism will help protect the Atlantic coastline of The Gambia from the effects of climate change.

About 20 per cent of The Gambian economy depends on earnings from its tourism as it is the largest foreign exchange earner for the government but the advent of the pandemic had caused the country’s economic growth to contract by 0.2 percent in 2020, according to the World Bank.

This was as a result of the global restrictions on travelling between 2020 and 2021, which prevented tourists and visitors going to the country, leading to the tourism industry taking a huge hit.

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