The first meeting of the BRICS Business Council took place at the Sandton Convention Centre in South Africa on 19 August 2013. The meeting addressed a number of issues including trade and investment ties between BRICS countries and Africa. BRICS countries remain committed to working with Africa in a number of areas, including financial services. At the meeting senior businesspeople and high-level delegates from developing countries heard from a series of high profile speakers, including Dahabshiil chief executive Abdirashid Duale, who spoke about the danger posed to legitimate remittance flows into Africa.
In comments made to the BRICS Business Council in South Africa this week, Mr Duale emphasised the need for governments across the world to work closely with banks, charities and the money service industry to ensure that legitimate money flows to developing countries like Somalia can continue.
The remittance industry is an African success story, he told delegates, pointing out that his company, Dahabshiil – Africa's largest money transfer company – was a real example of how business and enterprise can flourish in Africa and perform a genuine social good. Hundreds of millions of dollars flow into Somalia through Dahabshiil every year.
In Somalia, a country which lacks any working system of banks, the remittance industry provides the only platform for widespread financial inclusion, Mr Duale told delegates. Mr Duale called upon the BRICS governments to use the proposed BRICS Development Bank as an opportunity to finance value added industries and promote financial inclusion through industries like the money service sector.
The event, which was addressed by South African President Jacob Zuma, was hosted by South African trade and industry minister Rob Davies and Patrice Motsepe, the chairman of the BRICS Business Council. Mr Motsepe told delegates:
"We want this forum to serve as a foundation for a very extensive discussion among all of us as Africans to increase trade. But of course it's also about jobs for our people and to [improve] the living standards and conditions of our people."
In a joint communiqué by members of the BRICS Business Council (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), business leaders proposed cooperation on building financial services, supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises, and recognised the emergence of Africa as a new global growth point.
Members agreed on the need to promote win-win business partnerships between the BRICS and African countries, and support skills development in Africa.
Senior figures from the African Development Bank and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation were also in attendance.