文I 彼得·卡格万加 肯尼亚非洲政策研究所所长
BRICS Plus Initiative Holds Much Promise for Africa’s Emerging Markets
By Prof. Peter Kagwanja，Chief Executive of the Africa Policy Institute
● BRICSand Africa
● TheFuture of BRICS
The 9thBRICS leaders’ summit recently heldon September 3-5 2017 in Xiamen, southeast China sought to strengthen andaccelerate growth in emerging markets. The countries represented in thisorganization were Brazil, Russia, India, China, and since 2010 South Africa,respectively hence the acronym BRICS denoting each of the constituent members.These countries constitute the emerging powers in global governance. This year,China invited two African countries, Guinen and Egypt, alongside Tajikistan, Mexicoand Thailand, as guest countries under the umbrella of the BRICS Plusinitiative.
As the primary representative of the world’sleading emerging markets, BRICS is meant to accelerate growth in the emergingmarkets in tandem with and as a counter balance to the domination of the richG8 and G20 who have profoundly unrelated interests. The BRICS economies sharecommon domestic and socio-economic challenges. They are also looking forprospective success and reciprocal influence in boosting trade between theirdeveloping economies which constitute nearly half of the world's population.
None of the rising powers has however beenin a rush to assert themselves by usurping the role of the United States as theglobal leader. This is perhaps because they remain more pre-occupied withgrowing their economies rather than seeking hegemony with its conflictinginfluences and consequential high financial costs that come along with globalleadership status. This dominant reasoning is informed by the case of theleading partners, China, which has traditionally taken a long patient view ofdevelopment and has over the last four decades, through unrelenting fortitudeand perseverance, become a fast-paced country undergoing rapid change.
This approach has catapulted China’smeteoric rise and unprecedented advance to become the world’s second largesteconomy today at a GDP of over $12 trillion. This growth powered by itsrenowned position as the “world’s factory” or principal global manufacturer andleader in infrastructure development leading.
There are however issues that must be addressedindependent of the BRICS collective crusade in order for the individualcountries to collectively accomplish their major goals as a group in combatingeconomic, social and political inequality in addition to corruption,improvements in health care and education, and human rights, to name but a few.In Africa where these issues are particularly pertinent, BRICS is viewedpositively and is seen as a providing leadership that can be emulated inmeeting the primary goals of most countries in the region. They envision BRICSas the natural cover for them to exert their influence in the global arena forthe negotiate purpose of negotiating better terms for themselves in the worldeconomic stage.
The BRICS Plus initiative is a significantstep in deepening BRICS leadership and outreach as it endeavors to play asignificant role in shaping future geopolitics particularly in the developingworld. The inclusion of South Africa in the main block and the more recentinvitation of Guinen and Egypt to be incubated under this initiative hasfurther endeared the grouping to both Northern and Subsaharan Africa. Africancountries should now take the cue and forge a common approach, based on theAfrican Union’s Agenda 2063, to align its aspirations to the BRICS programme witha view of closely cooperating with the body to exploit opportunities thosecountries may represent.
These opportunities include unlocking thepotential of the huge markets that BRICS countries and developing countriescollectively represent through mutually beneficial preferred trade partneragreements. In so doing, African countries would be provide BRICS with theopportunity to diversify into new unexploited frontier markets while developingcountries would gain from easier access to the BRICS marketplace and byextension to the more developed economies. Another important area is bridgingthe technological divide and deepening both hard and soft infrastructure usingthe tested and enhanced know-how of BRICS countries.
There has been a fundamental shift inglobal significance whereby in future we will inevitably only have two dominantpowers, namely: the United States and China. It is therefore it is manifestlyapparent that China has ascended to perhaps the most significant global playeron the world stage straddling both the developed and developing world.Furthermore, as a member of BRICS, China dwarfs all the other combined emergingpowers and is hence expected to play a larger role in shaping the BRIC’s agendathat is commensurate with its elevated status.
China can thus play a pivotal role insteering BRICS to move closer to the professed goals of the developed world bycoordinating how the group collectively tackles key global issues such asclimate change, poverty reduction, free trade and building sustainable andeffective domestic models that may be emulated by other developing countries.Of more significance however, is the ability of China, which has managed tolift over half a billion of its own people out of poverty in its recenthistory, to provide a workable model of other developing countries that facesimilar challenges in lifting large populations of poor while at the same timeprotecting their environments.
In this context China can play this rolebecause of the seriousness in takes BRICS as a driver of global leadershipparticularly in the developing world. President Xi Jinping’s One Belt andRoad (OBOR) pet project combined withhis captivating speech in support of globalization at the World Trade Forum inDavos, Switzerland earlier this year are all aligned towards enhancingpartnerships of unity and cooperation within BRICS as a global model thatshould emulated by developing countries. Consequently, China now has theopportunity to provide leadership as most emerging countries seek to emulatethe BRICS model particularly the aspect of fast-paced, fast growing economicgrowth that is characteristic of members of this group.
TheFuture of BRICS
Some ideas such as the mooted BRICS bankare extremely attractive to the developing countries particularly if it canhelp them in achieving sustainable development goals. BRICS should also takethe front seat in propping up institutions of jurisprudence, human rights, fairtrade, and other equitable forms of Western global setting of norms andstandards. It is also critical that it fulfils its oft repeated aspiration andcall for the democratization of international governance and for greaterequality in world politics. This endeavor should be spearheaded by Chinaworking in close collaboration with fellow member countries especially becauseBRICS preference for reform and evolution rather than revolution is wellaligned to China’s deliberately unhurried approach in asserting itself.
China as the dominating influence will wantto show that it is meeting this goal. In this respect, it can play an importantrole within BRICS of spearheading the rise of emerging powers and catalyzingthe progression of shared development through its much touted “win-win”globalization model. In this regard the BRICS Summit signifies a furtheradvance in the march towards a new level of leadership as a globallyinfluential platform for South-South cooperation among the emerging-marketbloc, thus leading to a fairer and more rational international order.
From the African perspective, this is thekey challenge and opportunity for BRICS and particularly China – to firmly anddecisively take up this responsibility if they are to meet Africa’s sanguineexpectations in terms of uniformly blending aspirations for common globalprosperity. This is why the BRICS Plus initiative holds much promise as asignificant step in the right direction, providing emerging African countrieswith an opportunity to understudy their more developed counterparts on triedout measure for fast-paced socio-economic development.
According to Indian Prime Minister,Nahendra Modi, BRICS must provide a united and clear voice in shaping apeaceful, balanced and stable world. He argues that “We must harness eachother's strengths, in knowledge, skills and resources.” This is particularlytrue for Africa whereby South Africa membership in BRICS gives it animportantly critical toehold onto leadership among the world’s top emergingeconomies. Former President of Ireland and the United Nations High Commissionerfor Human Rights, Mary Robinson considers the inclusion of South Africa aspatently important for the rest of Africa in terms of being at the forefront ofnew power sharing arrangements. The inclusion of two other African countries asBRICS understudies provides further promise that BRICS will become the naturalvehicle that African countries can use to edge even closer to achieving theirgoal of bridging the gap with their more developed global counterparts.