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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid