Africa: BRICS Wants to Tap More Into Own Potential

Diamonds and oranges: Five countries that jointly represent at least 40 per cent of the world's people and GDP discussed details of economic collaboration at the 10th BRICS summit in South Africa.

"The first decade saw BRICS cooperation getting off the ground and bearing rich fruit. The next decade will see faster changes in the international landscape and the international alignment of forces," China's President Xi Jinping said at the start of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

Xi and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa opened the summit together with trade ministers and business leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa on July 25. The two were joined on July 26 by Brazil's President Michel Temer, Russia's President Vladimir Putin and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as invited guest President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Ramaphosa highlighted the achievements of the group in fields such as finance, trade, agriculture, science, security and academic dialogue. He also noted its relevance for the development of Africa and the problems the continent still faces.

The establishment of its New Development Bank (NDB) and a business forum were two of the most important achievements for BRICS, he said.

The Shanghai-based NDB bank has already disbursed $5.1 billion (€4.3 billion) in loans since it was established some four years ago, with $1.7 billion approved this year alone, Ramaphosa told summit delegates.

Ramaphosa plugs Africa's potential

"There is great potential for investment in Africa. In the past decade, Africa's economy has grown two to three percent points faster than global GDP growth," Ramaphosa said.

Massive infrastructure and skills development are needed to realize that potential, especially as Africa's working age population is expected to double in the next 25 years.

The recently agreed African free trade deal would provide access to a market of more than 1 billion people and a combined GDP of $3 trillion, Ramaphosa noted. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), that will see an easier flow of commodities, goods, and services across the continent, has been signed by most of the 55 African Union members.

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