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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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 Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

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

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.
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