In the next two weeks national security advisers from the BRICS member states will meet in Durban to discuss how the member states can contribute to peacekeeping missions, while the city will also host the meeting of the BRICS Business Council on July 22 and 23.
South Africa’s ambassador to BRICS, Professor Anil Sooklal, said establishing and working on peacekeeping would be one of the priorities of the country’s chairmanship of BRICS.
“Earlier this year one of the major global players drastically cut their contributions to the UN peacekeeping office and that impacts seriously on global peacekeeping and especially on the African continent. We felt that in keeping with the spirit of Madiba, who was an apostle of peace, that we need to advance his vision of peacekeeping,” Sooklal said.
He was speaking during a round-table discussion on BRICS held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday. Sooklal said the establishment of a work-stream dedicated to women will also be a priority.
He said that the establishment of such a work-stream would be in honour of the egacy of anti-apartheid icon Albertina Sisulu.
On the side of the economy, South Africa will use its BRICS chairmanship to focus on the fourth industrial revolution with the country and the continent hoping to benefit from this without compromising the security of jobs.
While the continent is lagging way behind its counterparts like Asia, Sooklal said there was an opportunity for Africa to leapfrog.
Sooklal said one of the things that needed to be looked at was how Africa could take advantage of the fourth industrial revolution without compromising the future of jobs.
Musa Makhunga, the president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, emphasised the importance of BRICS, saying it provided opportunities for SA to tap into the Asian market in terms of trade.
He said Australia was trading more with Asia and as a result it is reaping the rewards of that including a resources sector boom, while there is also growth in the services and tourism industry.
Deputy mayor Fawzia Peer said the BRICS summit would no doubt enhance collaboration between the member states.
“I am also sure that the BRICS conference will also give impetus to the successful implementation of the 2030 sustainable development goals.”
Chinese consul-general in Durban Wang Jianzhou said BRICS brought “concrete benefit” to the millions of people in the five member states.
“Over the past 10 years the BRICS total GDP has grown by 179%, trade expanded by 94%,” he said.
Shashank Vikram, India’s consul general in Durban, said there was a “big human angle to the entire BRICS process”.
He spoke of India’s commitment to having a strong relationship with and investing in SA, pointing out a Mahindra factory that recently opened in Durban.