23 January 2013

South Africa: Brics to Benefit African Continent - Chabane

Photo: The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa
President Zuma and his delegation at the Closed Plenary Session of the Fourth BRICS Summit.

Polokwane — The 5th Brics Summit, to be hosted in South Africa in March this year, is expected to benefit the entire African continent, says Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane.

Chabane was speaking during the first Brics [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa group of countries] roadshow held in Polokwane, Limpopo, on Wednesday.

As part of the build-up towards South Africa's hosting of the Brics Summit, government is hosting a series of roadshows in all nine provinces.

"Although we do not represent Africa in Brics, but represent the interests of our country, we still carry the aspirations of all Africans from Cape to Cairo," said Chabane.

The minister said it was important to harness the potential of the African continent at summits like Brics, which will be held at the Durban International Convention Centre in KwaZulu-Natal on March 26 and 27.

"As such, African countries will be invited to partake during the summit," he said.

He added that the roadshows were aimed at getting together provinces and stakeholders to make inputs in hosting a successful summit.

"We are conducting these roadshows to interact with societies, so that societies can understand the challenges and opportunities faced by the Department of International Relations [and Cooperation] when they interact with other countries," he said.

Chabane said although the formation of Brics has helped to stimulate economic growth opportunities, the establishment of the bloc hasn't gone without criticism.

"People were criticising South Africa because countries in Brics have well developed manufacturing sectors, and they have huge and highly educated and skilled populations," he said.

Chabane emphasized that Brics "is here to stay" and that the five countries involved would form a Brics Bank that would encourage these countries to share resources in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

He said a 'think tank' would also be established, which will consist of intellectuals from partnering countries to plan and strategise on how best Brics can bring development to the member countries.

The minister said a Brics Business Council would also be formed to identify potential investment opportunities and to intensify and build stronger relationships that would see countries develop good infrastructure, which can take the various economies to a higher level.

"The government aims to educate the nation about Brics and its importance through workshops," said Chabane.

Deputy Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, said the department and the country stood ready to host the Brics summit.

The theme of the summit is 'Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation'.

Various activities have been planned, such as an academic forum, business workshop for the ministers of finance and cultural events.

In line with the promotion of regional integration, for the first time, the summit has invited the African regional economies as well as the African Union.

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