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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs