African countries have welcomed the opportunity to join the rising BRICS bloc of emerging economies as a means to shift global power dynamics and ensure multilateralism
This comes as the BRICS bloc yesterday admitted Egypt and Ethiopia among six new entrances to the formation, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Argentina, from January 1, 2024, making it a BRICS+ bloc.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, chairperson of the BRICS Summit, said South Africa had invited other countries to join BRICS as a gesture of Ubuntu, a practice based on the understanding that our success, prosperity and well-being depend on the success, prosperity and well-being of others.
Speaking at the BRICS-Africa Outreach and BRICS Plus Dialogue, Ramaphosa said they saw the BRICS partnership as a catalyst for global growth and development that responds to the needs of all nations.
Ramaphosa said it was the right of Africa and the entire Global South to fully reap the benefits of global trade and investment, adding that Africa was looking to the BRICS partnership to unlock infrastructure and development financing, and to make use of these opportunities.
“We have to reform global economic, financial and political governance, including the multilateral trading system, so that we create a conducive environment for fair trade,” Ramaphosa said.
“While many countries of the Global South are seeing significant progress in industrialisation, technological development, innovation and the digital economy, they are not fully reaping the economic benefits.
“By working together, by sharing skills and capabilities, by mobilising resources, we will be able to give renewed impetus to global growth and sustainable development.”
Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said his country had always been a champion and a defender of multilateralism, and that BRICS was one key initiative responding to the repeated calls for a new and inclusive multilateralism.
“This BRICS Summit is taking place at a critical moment in time when often-unheard voices in the global arena are striving to be heard,” Ahmed said.
“The many crises we are faced with as a global community, particularly after the Covid-19 pandemic, have further exposed how co-operation is key for our collective survival, hence a growing and inclusive multilateralism is essential to overcome common challenges.
Ahmed said a reformative multilateralism entailed inclusivity, co-operation and diversity of voices and interests.
“By amplifying voices from various corners of the globe, we can collaboratively work for an equitable and peaceful world.
“For the African continent. Our positioning offers a vital link to East Africa's market and has the potential to foster ritual in a more inclusive integration of the global economy,” Ahmed said.
Oxford Economics Africa’s head of macro, Jacques Nel, said the biggest takeaway from the BRICS Summit was the naming of six new members, however, none of them were major trading partners with South Africa.
“Apart from the international media focus, the Summit did not yield any significant economic gains in the form of trade or investment deals, but the member expansion does present some opportunities to South Africa,” Nel said.
“The expanded grouping will have more economic and political clout, but it is difficult to see how any meaningful decisions will be made and implemented.”