President Cyril Ramaphosa says food, fertiliser and grain shortages caused by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia must motivate Africa to ‘wake up’ and take food security into its own hands.

The president was speaking following discussions held at the G7 Leaders’ Summit held in Bavaria, Germany.

“There are food shortages. Food prices have gone up. There’s a shortage of fertilisers, cereals and grains that Russia and Ukraine produce are not getting through, and this has led to huge shortages and prices have gone up for many developing economy countries.

“United Nations Secretary-General (António Guterres) explained the initiatives he has been involved in to open the channels so that the grains, cereals and fertilisers that come from Russia and Ukraine can begin to be exported to various parts of the world,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said discussions expanded to a proposition “similar to the one we worked on with the vaccines”, which would culminate in African countries producing their own fertilisers and gaining self-reliance.

“We want African countries to be self-reliant when it comes to fertiliser production and we are going to be working with G7 countries. I am particularly pleased and excited that we… should improve fertiliser production on the African continent to secure food security… be it grains or any other type of food commodity. It is fertilisers that are going to help us reach that level.

“Africa must begin to produce its own fertilisers; we must become economically independent when it comes to food security. As much as there is conflict, the silver lining is that it could actually make us wake up and begin to produce our own fertilisers to secure our own food security.”

Climate change

The president said during deliberations, fruitful discussions were held on climate change and the responsibility that developed countries have to ensure that developing countries are supported in their just energy transitions.

“The G7 countries recognised that many developing economy countries are not responsible for the terrible emissions that have led to climate change and they recognised that they have a responsibility, and also need to pledge solidarity to assist us as we traverse towards (a) renewable energy type of economic development and that they need to make funding available.

“They recognised that… they did not live up to their (Paris Climate Accords)… to provide funding for developing economies so that we can begin to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change,” he said.

President Ramaphosa revealed that negotiations are underway regarding South Africa’s $8.5 billion energy transition deal that was struck at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow last year with Germany committing a further €300 million to the country’s transition.

“Negotiations are still going to ensue as to what that exact package means for us. But we made it clear…that we will only be able to embark on a (just energy) transition (which) makes sure that the jobs of our mine workers are not adversely affected and the communities that live in and around mining towns are also not adversely affected.

“So we need to manage the transition very well. It needs to be done within a timeframe that will enable us to accede to a renewable energy transition particularly as we begin to embrace new technologies such as hydrogen [and] such as fuel cells. We need to walk together with our people in full consultation so that no one is ever left behind,” Ramaphosa said.

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