The Africa-China relationship is often mentioned and regarded to be about 60 years old, but the reality is that the relationship could possibly be well over 500 years old; that is if one is to consider that the adventurer Marco Polo and his well-known ‘Silk Route’ journals true, and the voyages of the famous ‘Eunuch Admiral’, Zhang He, are rightly noted in history.
The Africa-China relationship is a long and lasting affair, that however much history has so far chosen to ignore it, has now reached a salient turning point, as evidenced by the recent economic developments in mutual “win-win” strategic investments and economic developments that see China pledge huge amounts of financial aid (well over US$60 million) to individual African states and the continent in general.
The investments are mutual, meaning that they are not prescriptive in terms of their inception as would be the normal case where one finds the investor/donor nation imposing terms of operation on how the economic development programme they pledge their funding in should be run; the Chinese government through its various programmes adopts a model that grants the receiver of the donation (economic development aid fund), the freedom to adopt strategies that are suitable in the home environment, strategies that not only serve the interests of China, but are in every essence modelled in a manner that guarantees mutual benefit to both parties involved in the economic development and poverty eradication plan.
“Win-win” as a concept is the new way established in the Africa-China relationship, meaning that the old way, where only one side benefits, has been done away with; as witnessed by thepost at the June 21-22, 2017 High-Level Dialogue and Think-Tank Forum held at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa under the aegis of Zhejiang Normal University of China and the AU Leadership Academy.
The relationship (friendship) between China and Africa is based on the concepts of exchange of ideas and mutual cooperation based on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Action Plan and its focus areas namely: Political Relations, Economic Development, Social Development, Cultural Cooperation, People-to-People Exchanges, Security, International Cooperation, and others based on collective dialogue as a mechanism for practical cooperation.
With the end of the opening address and keynote speeches by H.E. (His Excellency) Mr. Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister and H. E. Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, the forum then progressed to brief addresses by Ms Muna Abdalla (Manager of the AU Leadership Academy) and Professor Zheng Mengzhuang, President of Zhejiang Normal University who in his opening speech at the 2017, June 21-22 High-Level Dialogue, stated:
“Since its inception 6 years ago, the China-Africa Think Tanks Forum has been upholding the principles of “Civil Initiative, Government Participation, Frank Dialogue and Consensus Building,” resulting in a series of insightful academic output with far-reaching influences.
The forum is recognized as an important platform for the world to understand China-Africa relations and better comprehend the structure and the nature of China’s African strategy.
The successful inauguration of the Sixth China-Africa Think Tanks Forum today at the Headquarters of the African Union is in great part due to the support and guidance provided by both Chinese and African government organs, institutions, organizers and guests.
This wonderful achievement couldn’t be obtained without all the conference staff who spared no effort in this process. Therefore allow me, on behalf of Zhejiang Normal University, to extend my most sincere gratitude to all of you.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, there is a long and profound tradition of friendship between China and Africa, we not only share common development goals, we have also been committed to building a comprehensive strategic partnership.
This year’s conference is under the theme of “Fighting Against Poverty for Common Prosperity.” In this conference we read into President Xi Jinping’s book Up and Out of Poverty in an effort to step up the implementation of the strategic measures announced at the FOCAC’s Johannesburg summit . . . ”
The conference then went on to Plenary Session 1 (on the experiences of Up and Out of Poverty) co-chaired by H.E. Mr Kwesi Quartey (Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission), and H.E. Mr Zhou Yuxiao (Ambassador for Affairs of the FOCAC of the Foreign Ministry of China).
There were remarks by dignitaries who included Huang Youyi (Vice President of the Translators Association of China), Dr. Arkebe Oqubay (Inter-Ministerial Coordinator, Ethiopia), Mr Chen Zhigang (Deputy Director of the State Council, China), and Dr. Newai Gabreal (Former Economic Advisor).
The speakers’ remarks touched on H.E. President Xi Jingping’s thoughts, ideas and policies, measures on poverty reduction and development, and lessons for the continent of Africa at present and mapping of the pathways beyond to the future.
The remarks were followed by two parallel panel discussions on the topic “Policy and experience of poverty reduction in China and Africa (Governance, institutions and pro-poor growth policies)” moderated by H.E. Mr. Shu Zhan Former Chinese Ambassador to Eritrea and Rwanda under the themes of ‘I. Sharing the Chinese experiences of poverty reduction and development, II.
Opportunities and challenges for Africa’s poverty reduction and achieving sustainable self-development, III.
Development policies by suiting local conditions: exploring a suitable way for poverty reduction, and IV. What are the roles played by labour markets, financial sector and social protection programs in pro-poor growth?’
There were presentations on the themes by such luminaries as Mr. Bartholomew Armah from Renew of Planning of Economic Development, Mr. Huang Chengwei, the Director of National Education and Communication Centre for Poverty Alleviation of China, Mr Festo Maro from Economic and Social Research Foundation of Tanzania and Mr. Yang Guang the Director of the Institute of West Asia and Africa of the Chinese Academy of Social Science.
The presentations were followed by an open-floor discussion on the core themes of sustainable self-development, pro-poor growth in Africa, precision support policy, and trends, policies and the role of international cooperation.
The discussions were then followed by presentations on employment and social protection by Dr Gibson Chigumira, Chinese special economic zone by Mr. Huang Meibo, industrialization by Ms. Yazini April, the role played by government in making policies of poverty reduction by Mr Liu Hongwu, and fiscal and tax policies by Ms. Wu Qimin.
There were intermediate open-floor discussions until the forum was adjourned. In the stead of thepost Lesotho, I was part of the media delegation invited and there were opinions sought by all parties engaged in the discussion forum on how best the implementation of the 10-Point FOCAC plan can be carried out.
As representative from Lesotho in media, I was interviewed, and in the answer to Hu Zexi (from China Daily)’s question on what I thought of the book Up and Out of Poverty, I have only one reply: that the only way one can progress is if they follow living examples of what has been tested and proven to work.
The new shield is after all moulded on the outline of the old, and in the case of the Africa-China relationship, China’s model of poverty reduction has proven effective in the light of ensuring progressive economic growth; it thus becomes a shield upon which we can map our own progressive development policies.
And, from the discussions by the varied experts in the different fields related to economic development echo the view that, constant discussion and dialogue if followed by engagement and implementation could well reap positive results for the continent of Africa in terms of economic development and poverty alleviation.
As sounded by the dignitaries and academics through their various presentations, what one senses is that there is a clear chance for Africa to progress if it adopts the progressive economic governance strategies employed by China in the past to reach the now prosperous present.
The discussions on the book Up and Out of Poverty only affirm the fact that it is not only a well-written guide for progressive economic development, but the book is also a manual upon which the individual and the state can base their terms of cooperation to ensure that the progress of the latter can be guaranteed to last well into the future.
Drawing on varied topics ranging from the core (at least for me) topics on self-cultivation, the role of the media, and the water droplets drilling through rock, the book does not only see economic development from the perspective of the larger macro-economic development planning bodies that often view development on the scale of the state.
President Xi Jinping puts insistence on the return to the grassroots (where the real economic development strategy should be aimed at) as key to solving the poverty related problems of the continent of Africa.
The model has been tested and proven by the story of Ningde Prefecture which began as a poor rural community which 30 years ago was not as beautiful and advanced as it is today.
For the President, the act of economic development is not an accident, but it is a process that requires concerted effort that is aimed at uplifting first the weak (the poor and the vulnerable) from their state of poverty before implementing the main development goals in the larger economic development strategy.
The book gives out practical solutions to economic problems a large part of the African continent faces, and could well serve as a guide to uplift the continent out of the state of poverty. The adoption of the economic development models aimed at eradicating poverty has so far lifted more than 55.64 million people out of poverty in China as stated by Mr. Huang Chengwei (Director of National Education and Communication Center for Poverty Alleviation of China).
This is due to the fact that the approach to economic development and poverty eradication focused on rural development and improvement of infrastructure as the main areas of focus, which was in turn supplemented by the mobilisation of the people (the grassroots) to be involved in the processes leading to the upliftment out of poverty.
Every strategic plan has goals, but if the goals are not understood at grassroots level, then such goals become impossible to achieve as shown by Dr. Gibson Chigumira, the Director of Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit.
He insists on adopting a labour intensive policy for poverty reduction in Africa, the changing and diversification of economic structures to absorb the large numbers of the poor and the unemployed. He also hinted that social assistance and empowerment for the previously marginalised, as echoed from the manual Up and Out of Poverty should be adopted as part of the policy.
The discussions on day one of the two day forum revealed that indeed, for one to succeed, they sometimes have to follow in the footsteps of the giant; and who can argue that the achievements China has so far attained are an economic marvel the wise developing economy can follow?
Day Two of the forum saw the delegation of the more than 111 delegates from different fields of occupation and profession visit the expansive Eastern Industry Zone (the Ethiopia-China Huajian International Light Industry City) 30 kilometres to the East of Addis Ababa to see the commitment China has made to lifting the citizens of Africa out of poverty.
Boasting large scale industries in shoe and textile manufacturing, car assembly, ceramics, and other products, this complex is a hub of activity that currently employs more than 10,000 Ethiopian men and women even though it is still in the budding stages.
The possibilities for economic development and benefits are limitless, that is if one is to envision what scale it will be operating on upon its completion.
The words we had shared the previous day were given sure evidence that they were not just empty talk; The People’s Republic of China is committed to helping Africa out of poverty, and unlike what has been seen in the past, the commitment is not based on fickle talk but is of a form that says, “wake up and do it . . . be “hands on” when it comes to economic development.”
H.E. Shu Zhan told thepost that the people have the wisdom, so granting them the freedom to express their ideas and the opinions when it comes to the making of strategy that will lift them out of poverty really means that they can contribute positively to the process of getting Up and Out of Poverty as said by the title of H.E. Xi Jinping’s book.
The book has given me a different perspective in the first four readings, but it is now clearer after the return from the forum in Addis Ababa; the city of many contrasts, and the hub of Africa.
Who will speak on behalf of Basotho?
A clash was reported to have taken place a few weeks ago between police officers, on the one hand, and an MP and his bodyguards, on the other, was always inevitable. It is a direct result of arrangements where people we have lent power to represent us in Parliament now use that power to come up with schemes by which they and their bodyguards should be exempted from equal treatment, and be treated differently from the rest us.
This conduct is anti-seMohlomi, and anti-seMoshoeshoe. And so are many other behaviours we have seen perpetrated by our MPs.
We can expect that those who behave this way will not stop at violation of road traffic laws but will go on to carry contraband in ‘MP’ registered vehicles, and claim exemption from police searches when confronted by the police.
The principle of ‘equality before the law’, and the principle that we should all be treated the same, is a fundamental requirement for the maintenance of social order. MPs who ignore, or violate, it are sources of social disorder. Such MPs have to be regarded as enemies of social order in Lesotho. They should bear in mind that they are opposing society when they oppose the police’s attempts to enforce the law.
We should all obey traffic laws. And, we should all stand in long queues for poor services at the Passport and Traffic Offices. Otherwise, if those we have voted into power use that power to exempt themselves and their bodyguards from poor public services, MPs will have no incentive and interest to work for improved quality of public service.
The failure by MPs and governments to address problems of poor public services is an important reason why everyday many Basotho cross into South Africa in search of better education, better medical services, and lower prices of basic necessities. That traffic includes cars which bear red registration numbers ferrying Lesotho public officials to South Africa for better services.
As always, MPs, Ministers, and other public servants will probably be exempted, or expect to be exempted, from the torment that comes with the new customs regime agreed by Revenue Services (SARS) and Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL), and implemented at RSA-Lesotho border posts. Exemption of officials and MPs will mean that they will have no interest, nor incentive, to lessen its toll on Basotho.
The new regime started early in August 2023. To educate travellers about it, the RSL staff at the Maseru border have been giving people leaflets that explain the new procedures.
Even before this new regime, and others that came before it, many people have always been suspicious that a lot of what people who enter Lesotho go through is not in the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) Agreement. For example, it is known that the Agreement is supposed to ensure that citizens of SACU member-countries do not pay tax on a similar item in more than one SACU country. In other words, citizens of SACU member-states should not be taxed twice, or more, for the same item within the SACU area.
But because of the bureaucracy that has been imposed on customs processes at the Lesotho-South Africa borders, many people fall victim to some bureaucratic detail, or other, and end up paying tax in South Africa and Lesotho for a similar item, or service.
In the new regime agreed by RSL and SARS, RSL officials tell us that we are supposed to stamp all receipts of value of M250, and above, at SARS. They say this while distributing a leaflet that says the threshold is M10 000.
For the M250 receipt to be stamped, you need to submit to SARS copies of pages of your passport showing your address in Lesotho, and showing dates on which you travelled to and from South Africa. The implication of this is that if you carry a South African passport you cannot bring groceries into Lesotho for reasons including the fact that Lesotho government cannot claim tax from South Africa on such goods. It is unclear what will happen to a South African tourists coming to Lesotho who might be refused permission to enter with their food.
As said, the requirement that we should stamp M250 receipts at SARS is not on the leaflet RSL officials are giving to travellers. Extraordinarily, RSL officials admit this.
So, at the expense of our time, and standing in receipt-stamping queues that will inevitably grow longer and longer, we are being forced to adhere to a requirement which is nowhere in the official papers.
Has the new regime been negotiated and agreed to by RSL officials alone, or is the government aware of the unreasonable measures that we have to comply with?
It must be said that, at least, for now, the RSL staff remain very helpful, and seem to acknowledge that requirements they are expected to enforce are unreasonable.
It seems nobody thinks of us when government and officials agree to onerous customs measures at our border posts. In part this is because, again, those we have lent power to represent us use that power to exempt themselves onerous procedures that they negotiate and agree to.
We need people who think of us when they negotiate customs and other agreements. Basotho need somebody who can speak on their behalf.
Prof Motlatsi Thabane
Developing close reading skills
One of the most important skills in adeptly dealing with comprehension-related questions lies in your acquisition and refining close-reading competencies and strategies. The word comprehend means to understand, to fully grasp the essence of a text. When you comprehend a text you will take in, as it were, all the elements of a text, you nibble in, to speak using metaphors, your teeth into the heart of the text. You savour the text, immersing yourself in the texture of the text.
Close-reading involves deep observation and critical analysis of a text or comprehension passage. Close-reading strategies demands that the reader of a text pick even the salient nuances of a text, he or she must take in all the hues and details of a text which are not mentioned directly in the text. This skill takes time to hone, but with constant practice and hard work, it can be done. Let’s do that in a practical way. We are going to focus on a very small extract depicting how one aspiring ironman trained rigorously to realise his dream and the social and emotional toll the training exerted on the man and his family and how, finally he won, much to the happiness and excitement of his family. Here is the extract, as you read, please focus on the use of language to create meaning and effect. Let’s try to discern the feelings of the writer when her husband, eventually became an ironman.
“Because it’s there,’ I’d snarl to anyone who dared question why any sane mortal would tackle an Ironman. I enjoyed mercilessly shaming his less-than-supportive business partner into recognising the potentially boundless benefits of Sam’s well-publicised adventure for their newly-established, fledgling travel company. A flurry of online articles described me as ‘a runner married to a triathlete’ – it took me a few moments to recognise our family and beam with immeasurable pride.
Our son missed having Dad around at the weekends, especially if he woke up after Sam had left to train on a Saturday when sometimes there were tears. But he got used to the different dynamic. He was given an ‘Ironman’ superhero toy as a birthday gift by some relatives and immediately started making it swim, bike and run! The poor child thinks that this is how normal families operate.
Having said all that, watching Sam emerge god-like from the water, power past us on his bike and rocket down the finishing chute, head held high as our kids cheered with the crowd – utterly incredible and intoxicating, one of life’s rare pinnacles of perfection. It had been an epic journey for all of us. I’m so glad we did it. And next year? Well yes, it’s my turn.”
Have you seen how this extract is written in a very captivating way; it colourfully depicts the writer’s feelings of extreme excitement and euphoria when Sam completed the race successfully. The words, “having said all that” are colourful and conclusive. Before these words were uttered, the narrator was expressing her dissatisfaction about Sam’s involvement in sport and how demanding it was emotionally, physically and financially. But, now, the words show that the success overwhelmed even the sentiments or expressions of dissatisfaction registered earlier. One can also see that the writer is overwhelmed by pride and celebration at the success of her husband and she and the entire crowd were immersed in an “intoxicating” experience. Beer intoxicates, so the writer uses this word as a word picture to graphically show the intensity and pervasive nature of the happiness generated by Sam’s victory — it is as if they were overdrunk with the sense of success and accomplishment. Sam’s win evoked all those rare moments in life when all seems to be perfect and in its place; that is why the writer used the words, “life’s rare pinnacles of perfection” just to express that.
Have you also noticed how the writer uses a lot of word pictures to describe her reactions about people’s views regarding her husband’s involvement in the ironman race? One such word, a word picture is “flurry.” The word explains the immensity as well as the amount of excitement and frenzy of publicity generated by Sam’s attempt to be the iron man. This word is apt in describing the writer’s admiration for her husband’s feat and the publicity and excitement generated.
Let’s now focus on another text, let’s focus on how the extract reveals why people hate snakes as a result of the misconceptions they have about them. But notice how the writer arguably writes to endear us to the world of snakes and some of their very positive attributes. Let’s nibble at the text of the extract.
“In the United States, for example, public outcry based on fear and misinformation recently halted a scientifically sound conservation plan for timber rattlesnakes. Another project at the same location that involved releasing eagles was embraced by the community. Rattlesnakes are no less important than eagles. In fact, they may help reduce the incidence of Lyme disease, which affects thousands of people each year, by reducing the number of rodents that harbour this disease. But emotions override facts, it seems, where snakes are concerned. Snakes play an integral role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem – in most ecosystems on earth, snakes can be both predator and prey. When a large prey-population attracts and sustains a large snake population, those snakes become prey for birds, mammals and even other snakes! As predators, snakes keep prey-populations in balance. Snakes provide an easy, environmentally friendly, free and natural pest-control service. But snakes are worth saving not because of what they can do for us, but because of who they are. Snakes share many behaviours with us, behaviours we value. They have friends. They take care of their kids and even their friends’ kids too. Want to help us change how people view and treat snakes? Visit the World Snake Day website.”
While you were still reading, I hope you saw that this is a really captivating text. It focuses on the misconceptions and lack of information we have about snakes, which information gaps lead us into hating snakes without reason. True, snakes are predatory but they also serve an important function in balancing the ecological balance.
Snakes are not that bad, too; and like us humans, they make friends, protect their young ones and the young ones of their friends. Pretty amazing to learn that snakes, too, have friends.
So the point is that there are a lot of falsehoods and misconceptions about snakes and their true habits and functions within the ecological sphere. Often times, they are shown to be cruel, bloody predators that kill in cold-blood. But snakes are also victims from birth and other creatures. Snakes are a natural means to curb diseases which are brought about by rodents. Thus, snakes help in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. Snakes are relational and friendly.
Let’s now hone close-reading skills a little more. In the following extract, the writer beautifully describes her experiences of meeting snakes in their natural habitats in the rainforest and her excitement of seeing quite an exciting array of species. As you read, focus on the writer’s reaction to what she saw and how she is alive to the beautiful scenery around her and she captures that.
“Three hours later, returning from the trek, I felt bubbles of amazement and wonder rising. I’d seen gliding lizards fly effortlessly between trees, intricate dragonflies of infinite varieties and delicately etched, golden frogs. The overcast sky, saturated to the brim, had poured down heavily, drenching the forest, its native creatures, and the handful of humans who happened to be there. Thereafter began the frenzy of activities and sounds that engulfs the woods after a good rain – rhythmic sounds, musical, coordinated and orchestrated, and pleasantly deafening. Ah! My brimming heart and soothed soul enjoyed restful sleep in the tent that first night. Bonfires and loud music are prohibited to avoid any disturbance to animals and hygienic common bathrooms (with hot-water facilities) were appreciated. Everyone was expected to wash their own plates and glasses after every meal. We were encouraged to separate organic waste into the respective dustbins before retiring each night. All inorganic waste went back with you.”
You have picked words which convey meaning so aptly and beautifully. I liked the expression and the choice of words. The phrase, “bubbles of amazement” is so colourful and this is a word picture which shows or reflects the intensity of the writer’s excitement and frenzy at experiencing the tranquil and pleasant experience of being in a rainforest teeming with a vast array of species.
Here we are! Mastering close reading skills is a journey, but an exciting one, which allows you to immerse yourself in the text and allows you to feel all the juicy aspects of the text, as it were.
Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to: email@example.com.
The significance of BRICS for the African continent
In the pioneering work titled “Building Better Global Economic BRICs” (Global Economics Paper No: 66), Lord Jim O’Neill, then Chief Economist at Goldman Sachs, introduced the term BRICs, referring to the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These nations’ economies were experiencing rapid growth, fuelling discussions about their potential to collectively shape the global economy by 2050. In the spirit of this vision, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China convened for the first time in July 2006, on the sidelines of the G8 Outreach Summit in St Petersburg, Russia. This marked a pivotal moment in cementing the idea of forming a consortium of burgeoning economies.
Subsequently, the Foreign Ministers of these countries assembled in New York City in 2006 on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly and embraced the term “BRIC” as originally coined by Lord Jim O’Neill. On June 16, 2009, the inaugural ‘BRIC’ Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Later, South Africa was granted full membership in September 2010 during a BRIC Foreign Ministers meeting on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. This led to the alteration of the acronym to BRICS. Building on this progress, South Africa participated in the Third BRICS Summit in Sanya, China, on April 14, 2011.
BRICS is firmly anchored in the principles of mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusivity, consensus, and strengthened collaboration. The foundation of BRICS rests upon three pivotal pillars: political and security cooperation, financial and economic collaboration, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges. These pillars serve as a robust framework for guiding the alliance’s interactions and ensuring its enduring viability. This sentiment is particularly pronounced as the 15th BRICS Summit, slated for August 22-24, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa, convenes under the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.”
Drawing from the World Bank data from 2022, the combined population of the five BRICS nations stands at 3.27 billion, constituting 41.1% of the global population. These countries’ cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2022 is valued at 25.92 trillion, accounting for 25.8% of the world’s GDP. In contrast, Africa’s total population across its 55 countries is estimated at 1.4 billion, representing 17.5% of the global population. Africa’s overall GDP amounts to approximately US$3.0 trillion, contributing 2.7% to the global GDP.
The African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook for 2023, underscores Africa’s abundant natural resources — oil, gas, minerals, land, sunlight, wind, and biodiversity —whose potential remains largely untapped and undervalued. The report highlights Africa’s trillion-dollar investment potential in the climate and green growth sectors, offering a promising avenue for private sector involvement.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) BRICS Investment Report for 2023 reveals that the BRICS economies collectively account for 18% of global exports and approximately $250 billion in foreign direct investment outflows. Notably, the BRICS nations have emerged as significant investors in Africa, with a particular focus on industrial and service sectors, as confirmed by the Africa Development Bank’s Briefing Note titled “Africa and the BRICS: A Win-Win Partnership?” (2003).
Moreover, the BRICS countries have expanded their presence on the continent in terms of foreign direct investment, outpacing traditional partners such as the United States and Europe. This emphasis on harnessing natural resources and boosting agricultural production is also underscored by the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (UNECA) Report “BRICS/Africa Partnership for Development” (2014).
Leveraging their substantial economic potential, the BRICS nations are optimally positioned to support Africa’s aspirations under the AU Agenda 2063. These countries play a pivotal role in driving investments in natural resource beneficiation, manufacturing, and industrialisation across the continent. They also provide strategic impetus for enhancing productivity and competitiveness, especially within the agricultural sector, through consistent investment efforts.
The emergence of the BRICS New Development Bank offers an alternative to the Western-dominated multilateral financial institutions, which have historically contributed to Africa’s infrastructure development at a gradual pace. This bank holds the promise of financing comprehensive infrastructure projects across the continent, thereby enhancing connectivity through rail, maritime, air routes, and information and communication technology — an aspiration cherished by the African populace.
A symbiotic partnership between Africa and BRICS has the potential to elevate Africa’s status as a significant player on the global stage. This partnership extends to bolstering Africa’s role in global governance structures, including institutions like the United Nations and Multilateral Financial Institutions. The expansion of BRICS to encompass additional nations, including those from Africa, is poised to inspire African countries to assume greater responsibility for funding their sustainable development endeavours.
This approach empowers African nations to form alliances with developed countries that squarely address the continent’s priorities for sustainable growth and economic transformation. Most notably, the BRICS initiative lays the foundation for a multipolar world, contrasting the prevailing unipolar influence exerted by the US and the G7 countries (Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, UK, and the US). This envisioned multipolar world rests on principles such as mutual respect, sovereign equality, inclusiveness, consensus, and fortified collaborations. The International Monetary Fund, Economic Outlook (April, 2023) reveals that the population of the G7 countries is around 776.55 million representing 9.7% of the global population. The GDP for the G7 countries is around US$42.92 trillion representing around 30% of the world GDP.
In a recent interview with Africa Business in June 2023, Lord Jim O’Neill, the visionary behind BRICS, shared his perspective on the future of BRICS and its implications for Africa. He astutely remarked, “the notion that the group of seven ‘industrialised’ or ‘more developed’ or ‘early developed’ (G7) nations can single-handedly govern the world is disconcerting, given their diminishing share of the global GDP. Moreover, the G7 often finds itself aligned with the desires of Washington (US). How then can these select few address the world’s most pressing challenges? This predicament highlights the raison d’être behind my conception of BRICS: to advocate for a more effective global governance model than what the G7 offers.”
It is for these reasons that the enduring partnership between Africa and BRICS embodies a shared commitment to sustainable development, economic growth, and the transformation of global governance structures. The collaborative approach rooted in mutual benefit, respect, and a multi-polar perspective has the potential to reshape the global landscape, ensuring a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.
Advocate Batlokoa Makong is a seasoned diplomat currently working for the African Union. He writes in his personal capacity.
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