Egypt to Morocco: Food inflation increases risks of instability in North Africa, says S&P

By David Whitehouse
Posted on Monday, 30 May 2022 09:05

Daily life in Al-Arish city returns as the threat from militants in Northern Sinai has receded, Egypt
An Egyptian baker sells bread in Al-Arish city, March 20, 2022. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

North Africa faces growing dangers of social instability as governments seek to protect their populations from rising food prices prompted by the Russia-Ukraine war.

“Higher food prices can be a catalyst” for unrest, Tatiana Lysenko, lead economist for EMEA emerging markets at S&P Global Ratings in Paris, tells The Africa Report. Regardless of the duration of the war in Ukraine, food inflation risks for 2023 are building already because of fertiliser shortages and disruption to the planting of crops in Ukraine, she adds.

Political and social instability in the region, as new research from S&P notes, has historically been correlated with rising food prices. Examples include bread riots in Egypt and Morocco in 1977 and 1984,  protests in 1989 in Jordan, and 2008 upheaval across the region. The Arab Spring in 2011 also coincided with sharp increases in food prices.