The 7th BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, presents another opportunity for South Africa and Africa to help shape its new narrative as it awaits a new driver of growth following the commodity supercycle that fueled Africa’s growth over the past two decades.
The recent World Economic Forum on Africa and the African Union Summit pointed to a number of key steps that Africa could take to drive growth internally. Membership of BRICS can help Africa, with most, if not all, the initiatives.
The first thing that Africa has to do is to aggressively drive investment in infrastructure. Earlier this year, the commodity trading company Trafigura published a report, which found that developing countries had to double spending on infrastructure to $2-trillion a year by 2020, with the bulk of this money to be directed to sub-Saharan Africa.
President Jacob Zuma, who is also the champion of the project, says the BRICS bank is meant to lift developing countries out of poverty and not to rival or compete with existing Western financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Apart from funding, BRICS can help infrastructure programmes with skills and expertise, as Russia plans to supply SA and Ghana with nuclear energy through Rosatom, as well as China South Rail’s and China North Rail’s supply to Transnet’s locomotives and China’s award of a $5-billion rail project in Tanzania shows.
Indeed African countries are cognisant of the importance of trade and investment as a conduit to economic growth, poverty alleviation and development. On their part, most African countries are making efforts to create an enabling trading environment.
The world is currently witnessing a shift in the global trading environment with Brazil, Russia, India and China and the latest member South Africa – known as the BRICS – starting to aim for a major role in balancing the structure of global economic governance.
The story of the BRICS and Africa has only just begun and the future is exceedingly bright for them. The aim of this article is to provide an insight into the manner in which the BRICS are engaging with Africa not only from an economic but also political point of view.
For the BRICS, engaging with Africa is not a unilateral act of goodwill; it makes perfect economic and strategic sense. Africa must seize the opportunity to ensure it benefits proportionately from relations with the BRICS. For instance, African countries can add terms and conditions into the mix such as concessions attached to much needed infrastructure development projects.
In this regard, there is need for a proactive approach that allows for the development of cooperation strategies that are in line with national and regional development goals, thus ensuring decisions made at the national level do not conflict with those committed at the regional level.
Moreover, facing the emergence of strong developing economies like the BRICS group and other nations that seek greater access to industrial growth and development, the Obama administration realizes that a geopolitical has already shifted away from US hegemony and US Dollar.
Even as US multinationals and financial banks flood the world with parasitic “markets that suck workers and nations dry, the crisis of imperialism has spurred the development of a multi-polar order. US imperial economy can offer African countries only sanctions, engage in very famous political campaign «War on Terror».
The War on Terror gave a facelift to US imperialism’s war of containment and plunder under these conditions. In the process, US imperialism has murdered millions in Iraq,
Afghanistan,Libya, Syria, Somalia, and has militarized the borders of Russia and China borders in an effort to forestall the emergence of a global consensus on independent development. In 2014, the US conducted 674 military operations throughout Africa and helped coordinate the destruction of socialist Libya in 2011.
Furthermore, Washington has pursued a policy of destabilization alongside its EU allies in Middle East and Africa, sponsoring terrorists in Syria while conducting a fraudulent war against ISIS in Iraq.
A little over a decade ago Africa was being spoken of in the media as the «lost» or «hopeless» continent. Now it has some of the fastest growing economies in the world, largely because of the impact of the BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
How their engagements with Africa, both individually and collectively, are often contradictory, generating new inequalities and potential for development.
Crucially, major investments projects show how BRICS countries’ involvement in Africa is impacted by and impacts upon their international relations more generally, and how the emergence of these economies has begun to alter the very nature of globalization, which is no longer purely a US-led project.
The BRICS country operations in Africa include;
Russian federation, for example invested $98.2million in 2010 for agricultural training and technology. It also through lukoil invested $900 million in oil exploration in the energy sector in Ghana ad Coted’Ivoire.
India has invested heavily in its manufacturing industry in Africa through Tata motors, the largest automotive company in India. The company is operating in ii African countries.
India also in sub-Saharan and North African countries in telecommunication since 2010 as Bharti Airtel of India paid $10.2 billion for networks owned by Zain and has expanded its operations in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While China has put in $25.5billion for the construction of a maritime part in Lamu, Kenya that is in the infrastructural sector it has also invested in the Energy and also Wildlife protection and railway to the sum of $5 billion.
In Nigeria, China is taking part in the infrastructure sector after signing an agreement to extend a $1.1 billion- low-interest loan (less than 35%) to the Government of Nigeria for the construction of four airports and a railway for the capital.
South Africa on its part is operating a mobile phone business of some 45.6 million subscribers (people) in Nigeria in the telecommunications infrastructure.
Additionally, South Africa is participating in Nigeria’s manufacturing industry. Thus, in 2012, Tiger Brands, a South African company, made its third acquisition in the Nigerian market by taking a 63.5% stake in Dangote Flour mills.
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