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Article from AFRIC Editorial
The BRICS; an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, is a group of countries considered as the largest growing economies in the world, with prospects of growing faster than the already established economies of the world.
Terence James O’Neill, former chairman of Golden Sachs Asset Management came up with the initial acronym BRIC (Brazil, Russia, China, India) in 2001, but the countries involved only met in 2006 during the General Debate of the UN General Assembly in New York.

A series of meetings followed after that and their first major meeting was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia in June 2009. In 2010, BRIC became BRICS after South Africa’s demand to join the group was approved.

Why was BRICS formed?

One of the reasons why the BRICS countries came together was to provide an alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund so as to weaken US and European Union supremacy in global financial matters.

Reducing the dependency of its member countries on foreign aid to carry their various economic and developmental plans is another motivating factor for the creation of the BRICS group. Their aim here is to enable their member countries own and manage their own organizations especially with the creation of the BRICS Bank. The main objective behind the creation of BRICS is to promote regional development.

Serving as a bridge between the developed and developing countries is an important objective for the BRICS group. In this light, the BRICS countries try to promote an equitable order concerning agricultural policies. Their aim is to make developing countries’ agricultural products more competitive by liberalizing the international economic order to reduce agricultural subsidies in the US and the European Union.

Another BRICS objective is to help developing countries gain more bargaining power when it comes to negotiations regarding climate change and international trade and also the exportation of their manufacturing products.

BRICS achievements since creation

During their summit in 2012, BRICS group decided to create a BRICS bank that will serve in financing sustainable development projects in the BRICS countries and also in other emerging economies and developing countries. This project was realized in 2014 with the creation of the National Development Bank, with a capital of 50 billion dollars. The bank is controlled by members of the BRICS countries.

Thanks to BRICS Africa has gained more access to the global stage. Though South Africa is the only African BRICS nation, the whole continent has benefitted from their projects. Other African powers have been invited to join BRICS summits, especially Egypt and Kenya and Guinea and the representatives from these countries do not go back home blank. Given that the BRICS countries represent 40% of the world’s economy, Africa’s participation in BRICS summits offer them the opportunity to meet and interact with people that can offer reliable financial investment opportunities

The BRICS have also been able to destabilize the economic influence of western powers that usually posed problems to smaller or emerging economies. The World Bank Group and the International Monetary fund were mainly controlled by Europe and the US. The rise of China, Russia and India to Global superpowers gave an alternative to obtaining financial and diplomatic aid to emerging economies and other developing countries.

BRICS countries have been able to promote cultural cooperation despite their cultural differences. The group signed an agreement on cultural cooperation in 2015 which paved the way for a number of cultural activities, including sports, media, traditional medicine and arts. An example is the “Where Has The Time Gone” project where five film directors from the five member countries produced short films in their respective countries. These films were then put together and aired in Chengdu, china, during the second BRICS Film Festival

During the most recent BRICS summit of July 2018, hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, the discussion were geared at enhancing collaboration for inclusive growth and shared prosperity in the 4th industrial revolution. South Africa proposed that the group should work on peacekeeping, the establishment of a BRICS Gender and Women Forum and also a Vaccine Research Centre. A number of African nations were invited to the 2018 summit in a bid to encourage bilateral relationships between emerging economies. The presence of these African countries in the 2018 BRICS summit was fueled by the desire of regional economic communities to reach a consensus with BRICS nations like the case of ECOWAS and ECCAS.

Apart from these, building a BRICS internet in the nearest future was also on the topic of discussion in South Africa, though this was overshadowed by more pressing issues especially trade and bilateral corporations.

A BRICS internet will go a long way to foster trade among the countries if a monetary currency is built for online trade. This will surely be foremost on the discussions in the next BRICS summit to hold this 2019 in Brazil.

Reasons for BRICS success despite their differences

The five nations that make up the BRICS share very few similarities, which may only amount to their willingness to be part of the group and work together to help each other achieve their respective goals. Apart from this, the cultural, economic, infrastructural and technological differences may be a challenge for the group in the future. Despite these challenges, the group has come up with measures to tackle them.

They promote the spirit of inclusiveness, openness and cooperation for win-win results. This has been adopted by other emerging economies and developing countries. This is geared by equality in consultation, negotiation and decision making. The aspect of equality is one thing that the BRICS can boast of that other groupings of developed countries do not have.

Their successes so far can be attributed to their ability to speak with “one voice”. Their major priorities for the future is to work together to build integrated markets, create connectivity by land, air and sea, increase cultural reciprocity, and build a multi-level circulation networks.

The BRICS countries intend to stick together, so as to be able to build new beneficial relationships with major countries, enhance global governance, encourage south-south cooperation and promote economic gain for its members, other emerging economies and developing countries.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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