Since its formal accession to BRICS in December 2010, South Africa has played an active role in promoting cooperation between BRICS members and African countries. This is vital for boosting Africa's development, global common development and global governance says Wang Lei, Executive Director of the BRICS Cooperation Center at Beijing Normal University. According to him, BRICS members cooperation with African countries has become a highlight in the past decade, and has added new energy to the mechanism. The following is an edited excerpt of his thoughts:
THE Ninth BRICS Summit will be held in China's Xiamen City in early September. The last time China hosted the BRICS Summit was in 2011, when South Africa was accepted as a full member. South Africa's accession not only strengthens the BRICS countries' direct links with the African continent, but also broadens BRICS in terms of economic aggregates, population and area. More importantly, the move has greatly enhanced the representativeness of the mechanisms as its coverage expanded from Asia, Europe and America to Africa, making it an economic cooperation mechanism for emerging economies covering the whole world.
Since then, South Africa, seen by many as the "gateway of Africa," plays an important role in the BRICS mechanism, through which, it can also enhance its own national strength, achieve stronger growth in infrastructure, agriculture, mining, and manufacturing, and establish strategic partnerships with major emerging powers.
South Africa is also a strong driver of the "BRICS countries-Africa" connections and the overall development of Africa. Under this framework, South Africa is vigorously promoting regional integration and infrastructure connectivity on the African continent.
Strengthened cooperation with African countries has, in return, promoted development and improvement of BRICS mechanism. After South Africa joined in, the BRICS members have established a dialogue mechanism between BRICS countries and other developing countries, which have become the main element of the BRICS leaders' annual summit.
The idea was initiated and facilitated by South Africa when it hosted the Fifth BRICS Summit in Durban 2013. The theme of the Durban Summit identified as BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialization directly reflects three main objectives: to strengthen cooperation between South Africa and other BRICS countries, to strengthen the cooperation among the BRICS countries and to strengthen the cooperation between BRICS countries and Africa, vigorously promoting the development of Africa.
To achieve these objectives, South Africa invited leaders from 12 African countries including Senegal, Uganda, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia, and the AU Commission to participate in the BRICS Leaders-Africa Dialogue Forum held in Durban. At the forum, BRICS countries and African countries exchanged views and reached consensus on many areas under the theme of Unlocking Africa's Potential: BRICS and Africa Cooperation on Infrastructure. Since then, the rotating presidency of the BRICS countries has continued the tradition of organizing dialogue with regional leaders.
For the summit to be held in Xiamen, China also invited leaders from Egypt and Guinea, two developing countries in Africa, to participate in a dialogue with the leaders of the BRICS countries so as to increase Africa's voice on the global stage, promote cooperation between the BRICS countries and Africa as well as promoting Africa's development.
South-South cooperation platform
The five BRICS members are all emerging countries. As excellent examples of a new type of South-South cooperation, they show how emerging economies and developing countries can achieve common development through mutual cooperation. As developing countries with outstanding performance over the past decade, BRICS members have been resolutely safeguarding the interests of developing countries in the major global multilateral platforms, such as the United Nations, G20, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. BRICS can better represent the interests of developing countries on global multilateral occasions only if they maintain closer communication and consultation with Africa.
The BRICS nations, as important parts of the developing world, are not an independent group in the international political system. They should avoid division with the developing world, especially African countries, or they will be largely isolated from the international community. In addition, the African continent, which is poised to rise, has a large population, promising prospects and a huge market.