IMF warns of “risks of social unrest” in Africa

The rise in wheat prices, 85% imported in sub-Saharan Africa, is considered particularly worrying.

The seeds of newsfood riots» Are they planted in sub-Saharan Africa? A little early to tell, but soaring food prices have the International Monetary Fund fearingsocial unrest” on the continent. “Fears over food security have risen sharplywith the war in Ukraine and the explosion of food prices, increasing “the risk of social unrestin vulnerable countries, warned the Washington institution on Thursday in a regional report.

We are very concerned about the recent spike in food and fuel prices” on the continent, commented to AFP the director of the African department at the IMF, Abebe Aemro Selassie, noting the risks of “social protests“. “This shock hits the poorest in an extremely targeted manner, by increasing food prices, those of fuels and transport in general, and at the end of the chain the producers of goods and services which raise their prices.“, he continued. The spike in food prices is unprecedented: they hit a new high in March and erased the previous high from 2011, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) index. , which includes tariffs for vegetable oils, cereals or dairy products.

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85% imported wheat

Wheat price growth isparticularly worryingwrites the IMF in its report titled “a new shock and little room for maneuver“. Because sub-Saharan Africa imports 85% of its cereal consumption, with particularly high amounts in Tanzania, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Mozambique.

More broadly, imports of wheat, rice and maize represent more than 40% of the calories consumed each day by the inhabitants of Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius and Cape Verde, details a graph from the international organization, which sees among the countries most weakened by food insecurity Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the States around the Sahel. Two months after the start of the war in Ukraine and with the conflict showing no sign of abating, “rising food prices will exacerbate food insecurity and social tensionsfears the IMF.

It was precisely a sharp increase in staple food prices that preceded the “food riotsof 2008, more or less violent protest movements in some thirty countries, particularly in Senegal and Cameroon, as well as in the Maghreb and the Caribbean. Should we fear an act 2? The IMF remains cautious about potential violent revolts. FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, for his part, in April drew a parallel between the 2008 explosion and the current situation: the two crises are marked by soaring food, fuel and fertilizer prices, as well as transportation, he said.

The number of undernourished people is increasing

The situation is even potentially more problematic this time, he added, due to two years of pandemic and the major risks that the war in Ukraine poses to next year’s crops. The pandemic has increased the number of undernourished people to a quarter of the sub-Saharan population in 2021, the IMF calculates. A retelling from 2008 “can be avoidedHowever, Qu Dongyu said, referring to the need not to see the acceleration of export restrictions on food.

The IMF is also worried about the budgetary capacities of the States, in a region whose economic growth should slow down this year to 3.8%: “many more sub-Saharan African countries were in better fiscal health in 2008-2009 to absorb the shock“Says Abebe Aemro Selassien. “This time, with such high public debts in so many countries, the room for maneuver is greatly reduced.“, according to the Africa director who calls on the international community to support the region”as vigorously as possible“.


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