Africa accuses rich countries of ‘leaving it behind’ in favor of Ukraine

    Help Ukraine yes, but not to the detriment of Africa: some African leaders are raising their voices against rich countries, quick to pay billions of dollars to Kiev but not always meeting their commitments to the continent.

    Read also: Aid to Africa bears the brunt of support for Ukraine

    At the last meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, in Washington in April, “African countries have expressed fears over a double standard” in terms of international aid, a French government source told AFP. The war in Ukraine “exposes the true face of the action of the great powers towards the continent”also notes a diplomatic source in Benin, questioned by AFP before a summit, this week in Paris, on poverty and climate financing, regretting an Africa “abandoned”.

    Much of the aid to Ukraine is for weapons, but it inevitably draws comparisons. Partly destroyed by Russia and suffering a 30% collapse in GDP last year, Ukraine has seen aid pour in from all over the West. Its allies had promised it just over 150 billion euros in aid on February 24, according to data compiled by the Kiel Institute of World Economy (IfW). And new financing could be announced at an international conference, Wednesday, June 21 in London, on the reconstruction of the country, evaluated by the World Bank at 411 billion dollars (376 billion euros).

    Armed conflicts

    The main region of arrival of development aid, sub-Saharan Africa saw it fall last year to 29 billion dollars (– 8%) while that to Ukraine soared to 16 billion. , against less than 1 billion a year earlier, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “We see these immense flows that we thought impossible to release and which are released today”, Niger’s Foreign Minister Hassoumi Massoudou told AFP. The proof, according to him, that “resources and mechanisms exist”, which could also be used for the mainland.

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    Especially since some African countries are themselves facing armed conflicts in addition to economic crises. “There are conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and other parts of Africa, but the support Ukraine is getting from Western countries is unprecedented. The West is focused on supporting Western countries”regrets a government source in Zambia.

    A restructuring of the debt of this country, in default since 2020, could be proposed this week, a source within the Paris Club, which brings together Western public creditors, hoped on Monday. Negotiations on the subject for this country, as for Ghana, have so far been blocked by the lack of consensus between Western countries and China, which has become an essential lender in recent years.

    “Loss and Damage”

    The rich countries are also criticized for not having honored their commitments, in the first place the payment of 100 billion dollars per year promised in 2009 to fight against climate change and the recycling of 100 billion dollars of special drawing rights (SDRs ), a reserve asset of the institution, not yet completed. Adopted during the COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh, a fund aimed at rich countries compensating for the “losses and damages” of the countries of the South has also still not been funded.

    Read also: War in Ukraine: the difficult attempt at mediation by African heads of state

    “There is a crisis of confidence between donor countries and countries of the South”, notes Elise Dufief, researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI). Especially since “When we see the crisis in Ukraine or the North American banks going bankrupt, there is a response provided very quickly”.

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    Africa’s feeling of being forgotten is also due to its representation within forums that determine international priorities and in which the continent demands more weight, such as the G20 and the UN. “Africa’s history of subjugation and exclusion demands a radical re-examination of how it is represented in global institutions”analyzes Howard W. French, professor of journalism at the American University of Columbia, in the review Foreign Policy, also recalling that “its population, which represented less than a tenth of the world’s population in 1950, will represent 40% of humanity by the end of the century”.

    The World with AFP

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