Cape Town - Africa is set for a decade of "unbelievable growth and prosperity".
This is according to Dr Iqbal Survé, chairman of the SA chapter of the BRICS Business Council, who will take up the annual rotating chairmanship of the overall BRICS Business Council (BBC) at the mid-term meeting which takes place in Shanghai, China, next week.
The BRICS membership is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Survé said the mid-term meeting was very important, coming as it does a few short months before the 10th BRICS summit in Gauteng July 25-27, with the BRICS Business Council set to meet in KwaZulu-Natal on July 22-23. A BRICS Business Forum meeting takes place on July 25 in Gauteng.
Established in March 2013 during the fifth BRICS summit in Durban, this year will see South Africa become the first BRICS nation to hold the rotating chairmanship of the BRICS Business Council for a second time. The BRICS Business Council aims to facilitate co-operation between the five countries in various sectors, as well as promote trade and industry.
Commenting on the growing momentum on the African Continental Free Trade Area which saw 44 countries sign the AfCFTA in Kigali, Rwanda, this week, while a number of others, including SA, signed the Kigali Declaration which committed to the establishment of the African economic community which aspires to the free movement of persons and goods to facilitate trade, Survé said: "This is absolutely the best thing to happen to Africa in a very long time."
The AfCFTA agreement is figured to have the potential to bring together 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of over US$2.5 trillion if successfully implemented.
Survé said the AfCFTA would allow the BRICS grouping to attract further investment into Africa to create skilled jobs, while more importantly enable increased intra-Africa trade from a lowly 12 percent at present.
"The global norm for intra trade is 30 percent but Africa has not been trading with itself," Survé added. "But Africa is now set for a decade of unbelievable growth and prosperity."
The BRICS nations make up more than 40 percent of the global population and according to Survé the formation of BRICS has proven to be hugely beneficial to Africa as a whole.
"BRICS countries are now Africa's biggest trade partners," he said.
"A number of our initiatives as the BRICS Business Council have been very successful to date, including the launch of the New Development Bank (NDB) also known as the BRICS Bank and the pending formation of the alternative ratings agency. The African Regional Centre of the NDB was launched in Sandton in August 2017, the first of the NDB regional centres to be launched. "
Survé also pointed to the deepening of inter-BRICS relations in areas such as financial services, skills development, manufacturing, and the easing of travel restrictions.
"For Africa, of course, it is important that there is continued infrastructure investment and deepening investment," added Survé, who will be leading around 50 senior business executives from various sectors to the mid-term meeting.
Continued deregulation and the digitalisation of economies are key focal areas, as are the green economy and the energy sector which he described as critical.
"We will also focus on agriculture and the involvement of small farmers on the African continent, incorporating them into the mainstream economy."
The BBC has eight working groups in the areas of infrastructure, manufacturing, financial services, energy and the green economy, skills development, agribusiness, deregulation and regional aviation. "Among the key priorities for my chairmanship will be ensuring skills development and job creation among the youth," he said, citing SA's introduction of a youth initiative and the fact that the BRICS community has the most young people in the world.
"We must strengthen the involvement of youth, women and SMMEs and accelerate the digitilisation of the economy."
According to Survé, realising Africa's full potential will involve the upskilling of young people on the continent and the embracing of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
AMONG THE SA BRICS BUSINESS COUNCIL DELEGATION WHO WILL BE ATTENDING THE BRICS BUSINESS COUNCIL 2018 MID-TERM MEETING IN SHANGHAI, CHINA ARE:
SABBC Chairman: Dr Iqbal Survé
SABBC Council Members: Stavros Nicolaou and Siyabonga Gama
Manufacturing Working Group Co-chairs: Nizam Kalla and Gilbert Mosena
Skills Development Working Group Chairman: Bhabhalazi Bulunga
Infrastructure Working Group Chairman: Ravindra Nair
Energy and Green Economy Working Group Chairman: Brian Dames
Agribusiness Working Group Chairman: Slauzy Mogami
Regional Aviation Working Group Co-chairs: George Sebulela and Javed Malik
(The Financial Services and Deregulation Working Group Chairs - Geoffrey Qhena and Sunil Geness respectively are unable to attend but will be represented by their deputies)