BRICS Plus Initiative Holds Much Promise for Africa’s Emerging Markets
By Prof. Peter Kagwanja，Chief Executive of the Africa Policy Institute
● BRICS and Africa
● China’s Role
● The Future of BRICS
The 9th BRICS leaders’ summit recently held on September 3-5 2017 in Xiamen, southeast China sought to streng then and accelerate growth in emerging markets. The countries represented in this organization were Brazil, Russia, India, China, and since 2010 South Africa, respectivelyhence 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, along side Tajikistan, Mexico and Thailand, as guest countries under the umbrella of the BRICS Plus initiative.
As the primary representative of the world’s leading emerging markets, BRICS is meant to accelerate growth in the emerging markets in tandem with and as a counter balance to the domination of the rich G8 and G20 who have profoundly unrelated interests. The BRICS economies share common domestic and socio-economic challenges. They are also looking for prospective success and reciprocal in fluence in boosting trade between their developing economies which constitute nearly half of the world's population.
None of the rising powers has however been in a rush to assert themselves by usurping the role of the United States as the global leader. This is perhaps because they remain more pre-occupied with growing their economies rather than seeking hegemony with its conflicting influences and consequential high financial costs that come along with globalleadership status. This dominant reasoning is informed by the caseof theleading partners, China, which has traditionally taken a long patientview ofdevelopment and has over the last four decades, through unrelenting for titude and perseverance, become a fast-paced country under going rapid change.
This approach has catapulted China’s meteoricrise and unprecedented advance to become the world’s second largest economy today at a GDP of over $12 trillion. This growth powered by its renowned position as the “world’s factory” or principal global manufacturer and leader in infrastructure development leading.
BRICS and Africa
There are however issues that must be addressed independent of the BRICS collective crusade in order for the individualcountries to collectively accomplish their major goals as a group in combating economic, 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 viewed positively and is seen as a providing leadership that can be emulated in meeting the primary goals of most countries in the region. They envision BRICS as the natural cover for them to exert their influence in the global arena for the negotiate purpose of negotiating better terms for themselves in the world economic stage.
The BRICS Plus initiative is as ignificant step in deepening BRICS leadership and out reach as it end eavors toplay as ignificant role in shaping future geopolitics particularly in the developing world. The inclusion of South Africa in the main block and the more recent invitation of Guinen and Egypt to be incubated under this initiative has further end eared the grouping to both Northern and Subsaharan Africa. African countries should now take the cue and forge a common approach, based on the African Union’s Agenda 2063, to align its aspirations to the BRICS programme with a view of closely cooperating with the body to exploit opportunities those countries may represent.
These opportunities include unlocking the potential of the huge markets that BRICS countries and developing countries collectively represent through mutually beneficial preferred trade partner agreements. In so doing, African countries would be provide BRICS with the opportunity to diversify into new unexploited frontier markets while developing countries would gain from easier access to the BRICS market place and by extension to the more developed economies. Another important area is bridging the technological divide and deepening both hard and soft in frastructure using the tested and enhanced know-how of BRICS countries.
There has been a fund a mental shift in global significance where by in future we will inevitably only have two do minant powers, namely: the United States and China. It is there fore it is mani festly apparent that China has ascended to perhaps the most significant global playeron the world stage straddling both the developed and developing world. Further more, asa member of BRICS, China dwarfs all the other combined emerging powers and ishence expected to play a larger role in shaping the BRIC’s agenda that is commen surate with its elevated status.
China can thus play a pivotal role insteering BRICS to move closer to the professed goals of the developed world by coordinating how the group collectively tackles key global issues such as climate change, poverty reduction, free trade and building sustainable and effectivedomestic 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 recent history, top rovide a work able model of other developing countries that face similar challenges in lifting large populations of poor while at the same time protecting their environments.
In this context China can play this role because of the seriousness in takes BRICS as a driver of global leadership part icularly in the developing world. President Xi Jinping’s One Belt and Road (OBOR) pet project combined with his captivating speech in support of globalization at the World Trade Forum in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year are all aligned towards enhancing partner ships of unity and cooperation with in BRICS as a global model that should emulated by developing countries. Consequently, China now has the opportunity to provide leadership as most emerging countries seek to emulate the BRICS model particularly the aspect offast-paced, fast growing economic growth that is characteristic of members of this group.
The Future of BRICS
Some ideas such as the mooted BRICS bank are extremely attractive to the developing countries particularly if it can help them in achieving sustainable development goals. BRICS should also take the front seat in propping up institutions of jurisprudence, human rights, fair trade, and other equitable forms of Western global setting of normsand standards. It is also critical that it fulfils its oft repeated aspiration and call for the democratization of international governance and for greatere quality in world politics. This endeavor should be spear headed by China working in close collaboration with fellow member countries especially because BRICS 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 want to show that it is meeting this goal. In this respect, it can play an important role within BRICS of spear heading the rise of emerging powers and catalyzing the progression of shared development through its much touted “win-win” globalization model. In this regard the BRICS Summit signifies a further advance in the march towards a new level of leadership as a global lyin fluential platform for South-South cooperation among the emerging-market bloc, thus leading to a fairer and more rational international order.
From the African perspective, this is the key challenge and opportunity for BRICS and particularly China – to firmly and decisively take up this responsibility if they are to meet Africa’s sanguine expectations in terms of uniformly blending aspirations for common global prosperity. This is why the BRICS Plus initiative holds much promise asasignificant step in the right direction, providing emerging African countries with an opportunity to under study their more developed counter parts on tried out 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 each other's strengths, in knowledge, skills and resources.” This is part icularly true for Africa where by South Africa member ship in BRICS gives it an importantly criticaltoe hold onto leadership among the world’s top emerging economies. For mer President of Ireland and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson considers the inclusion of South Africa aspatently important for the rest of Africa in terms of being at the for efront of new power sharing arrangements. The inclusion of two other African countries as BRICS under studies provides further promise that BRICS will become the naturalvehicle that African countries can use to edge even closer to achieving their goal of bridging the gap with their more developed global counter parts.