In this episode we speak with Dr Alex Vines, director of the Africa Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, about the African dimensions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He outlines how, across international relations, economics and domestic politics, the invasion may have created “Africa’s moment”.
Geopolitically, Alex sees the conflict in terms of an ongoing shift toward a multipolar world. Many domestic and international actors have yet to make up their minds about the invasion, and non-alignment – a position reinforced by recent actions at the United Nations – provides African countries with an opportunity to extract long-awaited privileges while forming new partnerships with both East and West.
Economically, there is tumult on the horizon. African commodity producers will benefit from elevated prices in the short term – particularly as gas helps fuel the transition to net zero – but price increases also risk stoking political instability. As populations continue to experience declines in their standard of living, Alex fears that agitation may trigger repressive government action and a slide into autocracy.
Russia has increased its African presence in recent years, but this is unlikely to remain the case as the war drags on. Whoever steps into the breach will be doing so at a time of great change. Notwithstanding the risks – of which there are many – Africa is acting from a rare position of strength.
Host: Angus Chapman
Executive Producer: Desné Masie
Co-producer: Peter Doerrie
Digital Editor: Charles Dietz
Design: Jason Venkatasamy