WEF and BRICS Connection – Unlocking Opportunities for Trade and Investment

In our previous post on Building Africa with BRICS, we discussed the issue of what BRICS can offer Africa. The article made mention of the World Economic Forum session on the subject of BRICS, and highlighted the central discussion points for the session. To recap, these are:

  • How will collaboration with the BRICS empower Africa to deliver on its promise?
  • Maintaining investment and economic dynamism
  • Building intra-regional infrastructure links
  • Best practices for workforce development and job creation.

Unlocking opportunity

Since BRICS’ inception, enormous opportunities have arisen for trade and investment within and through its member countries. China is currently South Africa‘s biggest single-nation export market and South Africa is China’s biggest trade partner in Africa. India-South Africa bilateral trade is expected to reach US$15-billion by 2015, up from $11-billion in 2011.

On the face of it, the outcomes of the 2013 BRICS Summit bode well for South African development and Africa at large. Two key decisions were the establishment of a BRICS Development Bank and a $100 million Contingency Reserve.

The proposed funding model for the Bank is significant in that it would support multi-country projects – something seldom done amongst existing development banks – and could hence provide a valuable funding resource for intra-regional projects such as those discussed in the Southern African Power Pool.

Mulit-country projects and accelerated regional integration

The BRICS process could lead to a funding model that promotes more multi-country projects and accelerates the pace of regional integration,” President Jacob Zuma said at the Summit.

He added that this could help bring projects to bankability by providing technical expertise and funding for project preparation. Though South Africa’s involvement with BRICS, Zuma claimed that African countries had on opportunity to grow trade and industrialise.

Supporting Africa’s diversification and modernisation

At a side meeting titled “Unlocking Africa’s potential: BRICS and Africa Cooperation on Infrastructure”, BRICS leaders undertook to continue to support Africa’s efforts to accelerate the diversification and modernisation of its economies through investment in infrastructure development, knowledge exchange and support for increased access to technology, enhanced capacity-building and investment in human capital, within the framework of the AU and NEPAD. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opined that the reform of the IMF, World Bank and other global institutions called for by BRICS would greatly benefit Africa.

The World Economic Forum will provide a platform for discussion and debate on the role that BRICS can and will play in Africa.

In light of the World Economic Forum session on BRICS, what are your views on the collaboration with BRICS and, do you feel that it will empower Africa to deliver on it’s promise?

David Okwara

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