The announcement by the BRICS countries that their summit, which opened 3 September in Xiamen City, China will consider the need to broaden cooperation with non-members is a welcome development for Africa to strengthen partnership with developed and emerging economies.
The BRICS group comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is a fast growing global economic collaboration.
According to recent studies, the combined economies of the BRICS could eclipse the combined economies of the current richest countries of the world by the year 2050, hence the need for African countries to take advantage of opportunities to cement ties with BRICS.
Speaking ahead of the BRICS Summit that will end on 5 September, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi, said that five additional countries had been invited to attend the summit as part of the plans to broaden cooperation with non-members.
These are Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand, as well as two African countries -- Egypt and Kenya.
Yi stressed that the invitation to the five countries is not intended to expand the BRICS grouping, but to broaden cooperation.
“We want to broaden the discussion to non-BRICS countries as well,” he said, adding that, “I am confident that the dialogue this year will also be a success and also help expand BRICS influence.”
Yi said BRICS is not a “locked club” and the influence of BRICS cooperation goes far beyond the borders of the five BRICS countries.
The impact of the BRICS countries is already being felt across the continent, and a regional development bank has been launched by the BRICS countries to service the African continent.
Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Africa Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) is expected to unlock the continent’s socio-economic potential through providing resources for infrastructure and other development.
The NDB, formerly known as the BRICS Development Bank, is headquartered in Shanghai, China.
The main aim of the BRICS Development Bank established in February 2016 to mobilize resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS member states and other emerging economies, as well as in developing countries.
The Africa Regional Centre of the NDB will exclusively cater for the developmental needs of the continent.
The BRICS Summit provides an important platform for emerging markets such as Africa in contributing towards international peace and development.
For example, the African Union has adopted Agenda 2063, which is a continental strategy that aims to optimise the use of Africa’s resources for the benefit of all Africans.
Some of the major targets under Agenda 2063 include the transformation to a highly developed and interconnected continent through improving transport such as railway.
At the regional level, SADC aims to industrialize its economic and has prioritised programmes by focusing on infrastructure development and market integration.
The move by the BRICS grouping to broaden its cooperation with non-member comes at the opportune time when South Africa, which is a member of the BRICS, has also assumed the chair of SADC.
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa has already urged the continent to take advantage of the BRICs to boost development, and described the launch of NDB as development is not only a “critical milestone” for South Africa, but “for the entire African continent,” and should, therefore, be celebrated as a shared achievement.
“The launch of the centre is testament to our commitment that BRICS and the New Development Bank should benefit not only BRICS countries, but should also benefit the whole of Africa and the developing world as a whole,” he said.
The BRICS summit will among other things discuss issues to do with strengthening solidarity and collaboration, and improving global governance; deepening pragmatic cooperation to achieve mutual benefit; increasing people-to-people exchanges, and enhancing public support; and strengthening institutional mechanism and improving cooperation platform.
The theme for the summit is "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future."