News / Africa

    BRICS Raises South Africa's Profile as Economic Gateway

    A woman walks past the International Convention Center where the 5th BRICS Summit will be held, in Durban, South Africa, Mar. 25, 2013.
    A woman walks past the International Convention Center where the 5th BRICS Summit will be held, in Durban, South Africa, Mar. 25, 2013.
    Anita Powell
    South Africa’s position as a gateway to Africa is a highlight of this year’s BRICS summit. Members of the BRICS bloc - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - top officials from the African Union and leaders of Africa’s regional economic communities are attending this week’s summit in Durban.

    South Africa is the newest and financially weakest member of the BRICS bloc. But its membership, South African officials say, affords nations in the group a coveted gateway into Africa - and access to its economic resources, inexpensive labor and growing consumer base.
     
    Population and GDP of BRICS Nations
    Population and GDP of BRICS Nations

    To that end, South African President Jacob Zuma said he had invited, in all, 15 African heads of state to the meeting. Among them are the new leaders of East African powerhouse Ethiopia and West Africa's economic and diplomatic hub Senegal - though both of those leaders will be representing regional organizations.

    But do the BRICS nations need South Africa's introduction to the rest of Africa? Tom Wheeler of the South African Institute of International Affairs said maybe.

    “In some ways yes and in many ways no," Wheeler  said. "I think that China doesn’t come to South Africa to get to Africa, nor does India. In some ways, the financial institutions here are useful to move into Africa but then again those countries probably don’t need it. There are probably other countries that will use this route more regularly.”

    Wheeler notes, China-Africa trade hit $20 billion last year. President Xi Jinping made his first visit to the continent ahead of the summit, visiting the Republic of Congo and Tanzania.

    But South African officials argue they are attempting to reach out to the rest of the continent through a proposed BRICS development bank, which may be able to extend loans that the major lending institutions will not. The bank’s focus will be infrastructure - a key issue in Africa, where many resource-rich nations are held back by their lack of basic structures.

    Caroline Bracht of the University of Toronto-based BRICS Research Group, said the African attendees have good reason to develop friendly relations with BRICS.  

    "Their growth has been variable over the last quarter or two quarters or so, [but] it is still much faster and much more rapid than the Western countries. ... So these countries, at the moment, by engaging with the BRICS, have access to some finances," Bracht said.

    "The question is now, who is leading the agenda. And I'm hopeful of this situation in the sense that the Africa-BRICS dialogue will hopefully facilitate an African agenda, versus the BRICS bilateral, or pluri-lateral agenda," she added.

    Whether South Africa's membership benefits the rest of Africa as touted will become more clear when the BRICS summit opens Tuesday.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Kendrick Sooknarine from: Trinidad and Tobago
    March 26, 2013 4:39 AM
    No task should be evaded because it is difficult. This is a most worthy effort. There will be problems,but that is the nature of things. This has been long awaited.
    The world today is about markets and these countries have the biggest markets of the world.
    I hope that it will also mean a rise in global living conditions.

    by: Shuman M from: Memphis, TN
    March 25, 2013 3:41 PM
    India is the poorest of them all...and here is how

    country population GDP GDP - I
    Russia 141,000,000 1,860,000,000,000 $13,191
    Brazil 197,000,000 2,480,000,000,000 $12,589
    South Africa 50,600,000 408,000,000,000 $8,063
    China 1,340,000,000 7,300,000,000,000 $5,448
    India 1,240,000,000 1,850,000,000,000 $1,492

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    March 25, 2013 1:27 PM
    BRICS is a name for a group of countries that want to control their countries by themselves. In other words, BRICS stands for truly independent countries wanting to do their own things without outside interference, especially from the USA. But can they stand? Will longerthroatism allow the overtly corrupt heads of governments to keep their avarice in check? The desire to have foreign accounts for themselves and foreign properties and schools for their households constitute a snag the donor countries of the G8 group have used to peg corrupt officials to the funds that they ensure their countries do not work except they receive aid from USA. BRICS will break the stranglehold of the G8 and G20 on economies struggling to rise if they remove corruption. But how can they when they are already stringed in the slush funds and will be exposed for one crime or another if they dare try to regain control for their countries. Let's watch and see if they will survive. That's if China is going to sustain quality leadership of this group. Otherwise there seems no other country inside of the group that is able to stand the financial power of US diplomacy and administration of the slush fund. At the best, China may end up with a wider scope of trading partners, but the group does not have a chance given their attachment to US economic and socio-political policies.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.