BRICS, B&R help Africa embrace a promising vision

By Toumert AI Source:Global Times Published: 2018/8/6 21:08:39

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

While the protectionist trend in the US has shocked many world economies, Africa finds itself embracing a more promising economic vision based on respect, win-win cooperation and total integration.

When South Africa was accepted as a member of the BRIC bloc in 2010, there was skepticism about the move initiated by China. Africa's footprint on global trade and investment was minimal, and its infrastructure was in a dire state.

Almost a decade after South Africa joined the BRICS, Africa has gained at all levels by engaging with China, India, Russia and Brazil. They have become vital trade and investment partners of the African continent.

Africa is taking advantage of BRICS cooperation, with South Africa as the conduit to expand its reach and support on the continent. And the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) has provided an alternative for African nations to fuel their development and spur economic growth.

Among BRICS members, China has been a responsible actor in supporting emerging economies and has provided financing to build Africa's logistics and transport networks, from highways and rail to sea ports, while engaging in trade with an average of $170 billion in bilateral trade volume in 2017. Chinese investment was $1.6 billion in the first half of 2017, recording 22-percent growth year-on-year.

Brazil's trade with Africa has increased from $4.3 billion in 2000 to more than $20 billion in 2012. Brazil's agriculture and bio-ethanol expertise have found eager partners in parts of Africa as well. As for Russia, Africa found new opportunities to secure new imports and market sources through BRICS. Russia-Africa trade, with aggregate turnover reaching $14.5 billion in 2016, was up by $3.4 billion year-on-year. Russia has also provided Africa more than 1,000 grants a year to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Meanwhile, India and Africa had already shared close relations, and 21 percent of Indian investment outflow from 2008 to 2016 went into this region.

Aside from giving Africa an opportunity to tap the BRICS alliance, Chinese policy has also integrated the African continent with the global trade and investment network of the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative.

Senegal has emphasized the importance of the B&R platform, and China has become Senegal's second-largest trading partner, after the EU, and its largest financing channel, with $110 million direct investment.

Senegal understands that only the B&R can bring and attract investment for President Macky Sall's Plan for an Emerging Senegal, the country's plan to attain emerging-country status by 2035.

Internationally, South Africa is seeking to channel Chinese investment in the B&R to other parts of Africa by integrating its infrastructure with that of neighboring countries and beyond to the 80-plus signatory nations and regions of the B&R initiative.

By the end of 2016, more than 300 Chinese companies were operating in the country in different sectors. China-South Africa cooperation has helped the local economy, created jobs, promoted the development of science and technology and helped improve people's livelihood.

In summary, African nations appreciate China's effort to build institutions and platforms that serve emerging economies so they can close the industrialization and income gap and project themselves into the 21st century economic vision put forth by the BRICS and the B&R initiative.

The author is director of education with the International Bachelor Program at the International School under China Foreign Affairs University.


Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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