CAPE TOWN - One of the notable creations of the BRICS group is the New Development Bank (NDB). The NDB has disbursed loans totalling $5.1billion (R67.35bn).
President Cyril Ramaphosa pointed out that “one of the most important achievements of the first decade of Brics was the establishment of the NDB, which fills a critical gap in project funding”.
According to Wikipedia, the NDB, formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank, is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
According to the agreement on the NDB, the bank “shall support public or private projects through loans, guarantees, equity participation and other financial instruments”. Moreover, the NDB “shall co-operate with international organisations and other financial entities, and provide technical assistance for projects to be supported by the bank”.
Although the impact of the NDB has not yet been felt fully, there’s no doubt that it will make a huge impact in the future for its stakeholders.
What should be the next creation of the BRICS in the next decade?
In view of the fact that one of the major discussions at the BRICS Summit 2018 focused on trade among BRICS countries, the next creation of the BRICS should be the BRICS internet. This was probably not foremost on the minds of BRICS leaders that are meeting in South Africa, partly because the BRICS Summit 2018 is missing the BRICS Digital voice.
Although the Chinese internet is viewed negatively, there’s no doubt that is has contributed to the building of Chinese internet giants such as Alibaba. A company like Alibaba would not have existed if Amazon had been allowed in the region from the early days.
The point here is simply that the trade between BRICS nations can be enabled by the existence of an internet that is accessible to the BRICS nations to encourage trade.
The BRICS internet should have the following three fundamentals built into it: governance; people and commerce.
Some of the BRICS countries do not have the best internet reputation in terms of how they treat internet users and its properties.
The BRICS internet would have to have governance measures to avoid current negative issues that exist in their own countries.
These issues include censorship of websites that advance an alternative view.
In this regard, South Africa can serve as a great guide among other BRICS countries which still have a lot to do in terms of internet governance.
The internet is not just about technology, it includes people. The internet of our day is made up by people who shape the nature of the internet.
Mark Zuckerberg has great influence on the structure of the internet. His value systems are embedded in the product that he has created.
The BRICS internet will need people such as Jack Ma to lead the process of shaping the nature of the internet.
People like Ory Okoloh, an African, would also play a positive role in shaping the BRICS internet.
Tech leaders across BRICS nations can share insights and experience across countries. Imagine Jack Ma sharing his insights with Brazilians. Such an exchange could create future tech leaders for the BRICS nations.
Ultimately, the BRICS internet will have to enable trade among the BRICS nations. The current internet is missing a monetary currency for trade online.
The BRICS internet can have a currency built on to its internet to demonstrate what the internet monetary currency looks like.
Enabling commerce on the BRICS internet would enable Africans to trade with Chinese, Indians and Brazilians online.
The trading market will be expanded due to the existence of a wider market.
Next BRICS Summit
The voice of BRICS Digital leaders should be loud at its next Summit. This will be critical if the BRICS nations are to respond effectively to the onslaught of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. BRICS Digital leaders should be represented on the main BRICS table. Its technology start-ups will also have to be represented as they are the future economic players in these nations. Failure to include digital leaders and start-ups in these discussions will limit the realisation of some plans by the BRICS leaders, especially in relation to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Wesley Diphoko is the founder of Kaya Labs and the chief executive of The Infonomist. Read more of his insights at: www.theinfonomist.com