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Aftershocks: Putin threatens grain deal as Somalia faces famine

View our data tracker and sign up for our weekly newsletter. This week: Putin’s increasing ties to Africa, Somalia on the brink of a famine declaration, South African farmers’ win against Shell, and more.

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Good deal gone bad?: Contracts to purchase wheat climbed to a two-month high after Vladimir Putin threatened a UN-brokered deal on the export of grain from Ukraine’s ports. He called the deal a “scam” benefitting the European Union at the expense of poor countries. A third of the 2 million metric tons shipped have gone to Europe; slightly higher than lower-income countries. Putin’s threats could drive commodity price increases and restrict future shipments. The Horn of Africa received its first shipment last week. Ukraine claimed Putin is seeking to deepen global divisions at a time when Russia’s influence in Africa is expanding and nuclear tensions are escalating. Sounds plausible.

‘Never again’… again: Somalia will almost certainly experience technical famine later this year. The UN warned that the dire circumstances are already worse than in 2011, which killed a quarter of a million people. 213,000 people are at “imminent risk” of dying in the country’s south and tens of thousands may arrive having been displaced by the driest drought in decades. If famine is declared, one in five households will face extreme food shortages, one in three children will be malnourished, and hundreds of people will die daily. Somalia sourced 90% of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine before the war. The UN’s $1.5 billion response plan is just two-thirds funded. The last time a major drought happened in 2017, rich countries cried ‘never again’. Since then, their aid to Somalia has decreased by more than 60%.

Missing in action: European leaders snubbed African leaders who travelled to… Europe… for an Africa Adaptation Summit. African leaders were seeking $25 billion to adapt to climate change. Britain, Norway, France, and Denmark announced $55 million in new pledges. Senegal’s president Macky Sall said: “I cannot help but note, with some bitterness, the absence of leaders from the industrial world”. Credit to Dutch PM, Mark Rutte who did turn up, though he didn’t have to travel far.

Case closed: Kenya’s Supreme Court unanimously upheld the election of President William Ruto, dismissing Raila Odinga’s nine claims of vote rigging as “hot air”. The court found that some pieces of evidence were blatant forgeries, heresy, and based on sensationalist claims. Despite “vehemently” disagreeing with the outcomes, opposition leader Raila Odinga published a statement saying that he accepts the verdict – signalling a relatively peaceful close to the hotly divisive election.

Costly corruption: South Africa’s poor law enforcement could land the country on an international financial crimes watchlist. The “systemic rot” began under previous President Zuma; police forces, prosecutors and financial watchdogs were weakened. Current President Ramaphosa introduced legislation to address these issues in August, but experts warn that prosecutions are needed. Making the Financial Action Task Force “grey list” could drive up inflation, which hit a 13-year high earlier this year, and compound its 35.2% unemployment rate.

South Africa farmers vs Goliath: A judicial panel has ruled against oil company Shell, revoking their rights to conduct seismic testing for oil and gas along South Africa’s Wild Coast. The panel cited insufficient consultation with local communities on the social and environmental impacts of the project, who challenged the licence in court alongside activists. The ruling could set a precedent for the other 150 oil and gas surveys set to occur along the coast of South Africa, although its heavy reliance on fossil fuels and ongoing energy crisis could pose a threat to widespread reform.

The numbers

  • 10.5 million children lost a parent/primary caregiver or were orphaned as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of whom are in Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • 90% of COVAX doses have gone to lower-income countries, according to their latest report.
  • 2 in 3 youth in South Africa believe the country is “on the wrong track”, with jobs and corruption the major concerns for people aged 18-24, according to the latest Ichikowitz Foundation survey.
  • 19% increase in the World Bank’s climate finance, which is now $31.7 billion. A third of the Bank’s programs have a climate component.

More reads

  • Germany proposes development budget cuts from €12.35 billion in 2022 to €11.08 billion in 2023. (Devex)
  • Zambia’s Eurobonds fall after the announcement of discussions with the IMF to restructure $8.4 billion in debt. (Bloomberg)
  • One analyst argues that the terms for Zambia’s debt restructuring with the IMF could have disastrous effects on lower socio-economic classes in the country. (Africa Watch)
  • 100 people are in quarantine and more than two have died from the Marburg virus in Ghana, of the Ebola family, as authorities seek to contain its spread. (BBC Africa)
  • A new malaria vaccine could be ‘world-changing’ say scientists offering 80% protection against the disease that kills almost half a million people a year. (BBC News)

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