Controversy over Russian Wheat Shipment to CAR via Cameroon

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read

A shipment of Russian wheat destined for the Central African Republic (CAR) has sparked controversy at the port of Douala. Originally intended to transit through Cameroon, the wheat is now being advertised for sale in the local market, a development met with disapproval from Cameroonian millers.

The saga began on December 15 when a Russian vessel loaded with thousands of tons of wheat arrived at the port of Douala, with its final destination being Bangui, CAR. Ecomatin, the source of this revelation, specifies that this consignment represents the CAR’s share of a promise made by the Kremlin in July during the Russia-Africa summit. At that summit, Russia committed to donating 200,000 tons of wheat to six African countries, including the CAR.

The first hurdle arose as the landlocked CAR needed to facilitate the transit of this donation through Cameroon, particularly via the port of Douala. The second challenge is that the CAR lacks a local industry capable of processing the wheat into flour.

To address this deficiency, the Director General of Central African Customs approached his Cameroonian counterpart to propose selling this Russian humanitarian donation to Cameroonian millers, with a commitment to repurchase the entire quantity of wheat flour produced by the CAR. While the Cameroonian Customs Director General did not object, he attached certain practical conditions, including various customs exemptions.

A new problem emerged as Cameroonian millers united to protest against this approach, perceiving it as ethically, diplomatically, and economically dubious. According to the Cameroon Milling Industries Association, “selling this wheat graciously donated by Russia to the Central African Republic to Cameroonian industries under the same conditions as wheat purchased for the Cameroonian market would amount to nothing short of tax fraud.” As a consequence, two weeks after it arrives in Douala, the wheat remains undischarged, as no buyer has been found willing to acquire the merchandise under the proposed terms. The standoff reflects the complex intersection of humanitarian aid, trade, and ethical considerations, highlighting the challenges in navigating such scenarios.

Soukaina Sghir

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