Kizito Okechukwu, the co-chairperson of GEN Africa. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency/ANA
JOHANNESBURG - Anyone who followed the three-day BRICS summit in Joburg will undoubtedly agree that it was totally overshadowed by the fierce trade war instigated by US President Donald Trump.

This as world leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China gathered in South Africa, hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

They had one mission in mind - how do we increase co-operation, facilitate economic transformation and become a global force?

The rise in the status and stature of BRICS is definitely worth keeping an eye on. Ever since its formation in 2009, it has been a force to be reckoned with.

My first BRICS summit was in Durban in 2013. Since then, the organisation has shaped the direction of the world’s economy with its formation of the BRICS Development Bank in 2014 (now called the New Development Bank), which has facilitated more than $6billion (R78.85bn) worth of projects.

It has also established the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement, a framework for the provision of support through liquidity and precautionary instruments in response to actual or potential short-term balance of payments pressures.

The objective of this reserve is to provide protection against global liquidity pressures and it’s seen as a competitor to the International Monetary Fund.

In 2016, a BRICS financial services working group was established to help with determining the viability of establishing the BRICS credit ratings agency. Experts believe that it’s now close to reality and a formation agreement is temporarily on hold, pending further engagement with member countries.

The 10th BRICS summit was not only about big money and striking mutually-beneficial trade deals, it also offered delegates the opportunity to engage with start-ups and attend a fashion show.

Africa’s largest, and arguably one of the world’s most innovative, start-up campus, 22OnSloane, was honoured to host the BRICS fashion show, championed by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation.

Produced by the renowned Carol Bouwer, the show saw fashionistas such as Rubicon and David Tlale, among others, embrace the opportunity for models to grace the catwalk and parade their creations in front of the BRICS delegates.

Dr Precious Motsepe, the founder of African Fashion International, was among other the dignitaries, which included the British high commissioner and other prominent ministers, who attended the occasion.

It’s a known fact that start-ups have a huge role to play in the economies of various countries.

With this in mind, I would really like to see BRICS use its platforms and resources to look at ways to partner with various high-impact start-ups, specifically in the technology space, which cuts across all industries, whether manufacturing, agro-processing, mining, health, energy, transport, education, fashion and numerous others.

Some of the BRICS countries seem to be leading in various investment deals in the global start-up platform. Proof of the pudding is in the various lucrative deals that have already been made in the last year alone, such as India’s Ola, which is a ride-sharing start-up company that raised $1billion in investments and the Chinese Sense Time company, which rose more than $1.2bn just this year.

Positioned

South Africa is also perfectly positioned strategically to put its weight behind facilitating similar deals for its high-impact start-ups, via the New Development Bank or various other venture capital and funding agencies.

I believe BRICS is here to stay and will help transform the economic landscape of the world for the better in the very near future. Today, BRICS countries control 22 to 23percent of the global gross domestic product, worth a staggering $40trillion-plus.

And, with its involvement with various other developing countries, such as Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Angola and many others, the BRICS bloc is now a true financial force to be reckoned with.

Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chairperson of Global Entrepreneurship Network Africa, and 22OnSloane, Africa’s largest start-up campus.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

- BUSINESS REPORT