COVID-19 May Plunge Millions of Africans into Deeper Energy Crisis – UNDP

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said that over 100 million Africans, who afforded sustainable energy before the COVID-19 outbreak, are most likely going to return to unsustainable resources.

The global body said while Africa still grapples with the fallouts of Covid19, the possible, negative potentials of the Russia/Ukraine conflict is starring the continent in the face. The regional body said many African countries are being directly affected by the conflict.

At a special UNDP Africa briefing on the consequences of the crisis in Ukraine for African economies last Friday in Geneva, the UNDP Africa chief economist and head of the strategy, analysis and research team, Raymond Gilpin, described this as an unprecedented crisis for the continent.

“It’s unprecedented because the continent is facing a trisect: the ongoing effects of Covid pandemic, the newly felt effects of the Russia-Ukraine war and thirdly the climate related challenges and pressures”, he said.

Gilpin believes that the environment will be gravely impacted by the current crisis, adding that there will a lot more deforestation and a roll back of a significant progress that had been made in the greening of the Sahel.

“As the cost of fuel becomes more expensive, energy sources, energy prices, don’t fall in African countries, we are going to see millions of households going back to unsustainable energy sources, and this in many fragile environments, in particular looking at places like the Sahel.

“We were hoping to see a bounce back from the poverty challenges that we had experienced during COVID-19. An estimated 50 million Africans being pushed back into extreme poverty is going to be more difficult for them to climb out of poverty”, he added.

This according to him, the global inflation has been imported into African economies, because Africa is so dependent on imports for food, fuel, medicines and consumer durables.

Many African countries depend so much on import of wheat up to 80% coming from Russia and Ukraine Both countries are often referred to as the world’s breadbasket.

The UNDP Africa chief, stated that the rise in prices that will begin could create another front of discontent and possibly unrest.

“We are going to see tensions, whether or not this will spill over into violent protests is unclear. But what history, particularly recent history, has told us is that this is a distinct possibility”, the UNDP chief economist stated.

Also speaking, UNDP’s assistant administrator and regional bureau for Africa Director, Ahunna Eziakonwa said: “We have never experienced greater pressure and challenge on our ability to sustain peace and development on a healthy planet as we experience today; a global pandemic that upended the world and changed it forever.

“We have seen resulting from that, but also in terms of pre-existing conditions, rising poverty and inequality,” she said.

The UNDP administrator stressed that global solidarity is needed more than ever in order to tackle these challenges.

According to her, the world saw how COVD-19 complicated the effort to maintain or to overcome the insecurity that’s created by many forces including violent extremism.

“The impact of this, the consequence, affected live and livelihoods but also creating an immense discontent about the population which is led to a regression in democracy”, she pointed out.

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