Africa Defies the “Rules-Based Order”
AU Chairman Meets Putin, Calls for Lifting Sanctions. African Union Chairman Macky Sall, along with AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat, finally met with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, on June 3, despite Westrn attempts to prevent such a meeting. At the top of the agenda was the food crisis and how to ensure the delivery of grain supplies to Africa from both Russia and Ukraine, which normally supply about 40% of Africa’s wheat needs.
Following the meeting, Macky Sall, who is also President of Senegal, tweeted: “President #Putin has expressed to us his availability to facilitate the export of Ukrainian cereals. Russia is ready to ensure the export of its wheat and fertilizer. I call on all partners to lift sanctions on wheat and fertilizer.”
At the press conference after the discussion, the AU Chairman commented that, “We are leaving here very reassured and very happy with our exchanges,” saying that he found Putin “committed and aware that the crisis and the sanctions create serious problems for weak economies, such as African economies”.
In an interview with French television BFMTV on June 10, Macky Sall confirmed that “President Putin was able to explain everything he wanted to explain and answered all our questions”, including on “restoration of trade between Russia and Africa, especially shipments of grain and fertilizers.”
“All his explanations regarding the reason for the conflict, including from the historic standpoint, are definitely justified. I cannot defend them, but I believe that, whatever they are, every leader must now work on making this conflict stop,” Sall said.
Western Study Refutes “China Debt Traps” in Africa. China is the continent’s largest bilateral creditor, but most African debt is in the hands of private Western investors, concludes a new study conducted by two researchers from Columbia University and the University of Oxford. Their findings, as they acknowledge, refutes the endless attacks on China for allegedly practicing “debt-trap diplomacy”.
Chinese debt, the study notes, “is not the most rapidly growing segment of debt. Other credit lines have grown a lot more in recent years, especially those towards commercial creditors.” Thus, “what keeps African leaders awake at night is is not Chinese debt traps. It is the whims of the bond market”.
The bondholders, according to researcher Harry Verhoeven, are “people from London, Frankfurt and New York who are buying African debt. That segment in the last couple of years has grown much faster than any liabilities that African states owe other creditors.” This study calculates that the total debt of sub-Saharan governments to Chinese entities totalled $78 billion in 2019, which is only 8% of the region’s total debt and 18% of its external debt.
These findings echo those of an earlier report by the China Africa Research Institute, which found that “The idea that Chinese debt traps jeopardize the entire continent is hyperbolic.”