Why African countries have much expectation from upcoming BRICS summit?

As leaders of five emerging economies prepare to convene for the 15th BRICS Summit to be held from tomorrow 22 to 24 in South Africa, there are high expectations among African countries about the outcomes of the meeting.

The meeting will be the first physical meeting of member countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa since the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme of this year’s summit is BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism.

One of the agenda items of the meeting is to look at how to strengthen cooperation between BRICS and African countries in order to bring development and economic growth to the African continent. According to the South African government, the host of the meeting, all leaders of African countries have been invited to attend the meeting.

Unlike previous meetings, this meeting is expected to be historic not only by inviting all African countries but also because of the number of countries that have requested to join in BRICS club including Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria and Senegal.

South Africa’s special envoy on BRICS matters Anil Sooklal recently pointed out that more than 30 countries from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia have formally or informally applied to become members of the BRICS family.

Why do African countries have high hopes and expectations for the BRICS meeting? Indeed, there are many and fundamental reasons that push African countries to be eager to join the BRICS union.

First, BRICS is not a military alliance like NATO, but an economic and commercial alliance. Thus, many African countries see the goals of the BRICS countries as beneficial which can bring rapid development to their countries.

Second, the BRICS country’s population has accounted for 42 per cent of the world’s population, and the contribution of BRICS to the growth of the world economy has exceeded that of the G7 club.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) admits that by 2028, the proportion of BRICS economy in the world’s economic aggregate will reach 33.6 per cent, and that of the G7 will drop to 27.8 per cent, so the gap will continue to widen as more countries are expecting to join BRICS.

At the same time, the statistics of recent years have shown that the level of trade between BRICS countries, especially China and India, has grown rapidly.

Third, African countries have great faith in BRICS because as the days goes by, BRICS is becoming an important trading partner of those countries, and as an important source of imports. Due to these reasons, many countries have requested to join BRICS so that together they can create a multipolar world.

In the meeting that will be held from 22nd to 24th August, all developing countries and those that have applied to join the BRICS are eagerly expecting to hear the announcement of the new financial system and single currency that will be used by BRICS’ New Development Bank.

The truth is that all developing countries, including African ones, are not satisfied with the way Western countries use the SWIFT system as a weapon to punish and impose economic sanctions on countries that oppose or go against the wishes.

Fourth, due to willful impositions of economic sanctions on developing countries by the Western countries, many African countries are supporting the efforts of BRICS to create a new alternative financial system.

They believe that the new system will help them avoid economic sanctions and continue doing business with other countries as usual

The establishment of a new financial system will help African countries do business with BRICS countries freely and protect their countries’ economies from being damaged by the economic restrictions of western countries.

One of the agendas currently encouraged by the BRICS countries is to encourage the use of local currencies in international trade, or even to create a single currency that will replace the US dollar.

The plan of using local currency has started to bring positive results and some countries have started doing business using their local currency instead of dollars. Thus, African countries have to start using their local currencies to import goods as other countries do.

Fifth, African countries hope that the expansion of BRICS and the establishment of a new financial system, the BRICS bank and a single currency, will help build a multi-polar world instead of being dominated by one or few countries.

But also, the introduction of a new financial system will provide an opportunity for African countries to choose a country to do business with without fear of threats from western countries.

It is important to note that, in an increasingly polarized world, BRICS can create an enabling avenue for African countries to fashion a more inclusive global economic and political order, which has been dominated by Western powers. Thus, joining BRICS allows countries to align themselves with a group that seeks to promote multipolarity and a more equitable international system.

In his remarks delivered at the 14th BRICS Summit last June, President Xi Jinping said, it is important that BRICS countries support each other on issues concerning core interests, practice true multilateralism, safeguard justice, fairness and solidarity and reject hegemony, bullying and division. He called for countries to uphold solidarity and safeguard world peace and tranquility.

For a long time, developing countries have been excluded from the process of globalization, and the problems of these countries have not been considered as important factors in the evolution of the world governance system.

Thus, BRICS offers a new way for African countries to collaborate with other developing countries that have similar challenges and perspectives, to increase international influence, and to encourage the reform of international institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank.

When Western countries form a group of developed countries and fail to fulfil their commitments to developing countries, the BRICS countries have become a multilateral international organization that represents and protects the interests of the Global South. African countries have seen great hope in BRICS and are eager to join the group.

(The writer is a Dar es Salaam-based analyst on international politics and foreign relations. Email: cleophacegeorge@gmail.com)

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