News / Africa

BRICS Nations Convene in Africa Amid Growing Chinese Influence

Finance Ministers of BRICS nations in Durban, on March 26, 2013 (SAfrican Gov photo)Finance Ministers of BRICS nations in Durban, on March 26, 2013 (SAfrican Gov photo)
x
Finance Ministers of BRICS nations in Durban, on March 26, 2013 (SAfrican Gov photo)
Finance Ministers of BRICS nations in Durban, on March 26, 2013 (SAfrican Gov photo)
Solenn Honorine
The nations that make up the BRICS - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are meeting in Durban for their fifth annual summit.  This year's theme is cooperation with Africa.  Trade between Africa and the BRICS has grown so quickly in the past decade that it is being compared to the scramble for Africa, Europe's 19th century colonization of the continent.  

Last year, the African Union inaugurated its brand new headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The headquarters was financed by China and built mainly with Chinese labor.  It is a symbol of Beijing's growing influence in Africa.  China's direct investment on the continent reached $20 billion last year, and the country accounts for two-thirds of the BRICS' trade there.  This fact worries Gilbert Mosena, the secretary general of South Africa's National African Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Normally, when you trade with bigger brothers, like China, Russia and so on, we should guard against a situation where our economy can be dominated by a well-structured, well-dominated economy,” Mosena said.

Trade between China and its African counterparts weighs heavily in favor of China, which imports raw materials and exports manufactured goods.  Earlier this month, Nigeria's central bank governor warned that Africa risked “opening itself to a new form of imperialism."

But Simon Freemantle, an analyst for the South Africa-based Standard Bank, says the BRICS' involvement in Africa cannot be compared to the European colonization of the continent.

“African countries sit on abundant resources. We have agriculture potential which nowhere else in the world has.  So Africa is in a great position and I think the way we negotiate needs to be pragmatic and quite hard-nosed.  Whether this will be a neo-colonial relationship entirely rests on African countries and African governments.  And it shouldn't.  And it needn't,” Freemantle said.

During a visit to Tanzania, Chinese President Xi Jinping insisted on the need to “respect Africa's dignity and independence.”  Lynette Chen is chief executive officer of the business council for NEPAD, the African Union's development agency.  She says the Chinese are treating their African counterparts on a more equal footing than Western countries.  She says, therefore, it is up to the Africans to assert themselves.

“It's a symptom of Africa's colonial past, the matter in which the Bretton Woods institutions have invested in Africa, with a lot of conditions. I think the African governments have felt powerless in terms of putting forward their demands. It wasn't the traditional way.  What needs to be redefined is the terms of engagement of these contracts.  And I think the Chinese government is willing to comply with those,” Chen said.

Chen says it has the potential to signal a change in global economic relationships.

“It's a very exciting time because the BRICS countries can get together to figure out their own set of rules.  And that, I think that the West, the global economies, will have to be cognizant of,” Chen said.

In Durban, the BRICS will be launching their own development bank, which will be the first concrete step toward formalizing their economic cooperation.  Analysts say the move should give them more influence on international affairs.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs