Brics gathering gives a chance to turn co-operation plans into reality,

South Africa will host the fifth annual Brics Summit and the first meeting of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders in Durban from March 26 to 27. The theme of this year’s summit is “Brics and Africa – Partnership for development, integration and industrialisation.

This theme is of particular importance in advancing long-term mutually beneficial economic initiatives among Brics countries. Within this context, the summit will endeavour to concretise a number of projects aimed at enhancing economic sustainability among the Brics countries, Africa and the developing world.

Over the past decades, innovation and technology have provided impetus for accelerated growth and development among developing countries. For example, China became the workshop of the world because it benefited from the unbundling and the associated technology transfer from the developed world.

Similarly, India’s growth was largely fuelled by the export of services based on information communication technology and Brazil focussed on improvements in agricultural productivity and developed an island of excellence in the aerospace and renewable industries.

It is apparent that the above-mentioned success stories have been driven by technology and innovation in these countries. Within this context, Africa stands to benefit from a project that aims to seamlessly connect Brics via an undersea cable system called the Brics Cable Initiative.

Currently, Brics countries are connected via telecoms hubs in Europe and the US, resulting in high costs and the potential for interception of critical financial and security information.

It is envisaged that this project will enable Brics countries to have a direct, cohesive and secure telecoms service that will accelerate the efficient flow of information and data between these economies.

Another initiative that will receive prominence at the summit is the Brics trade and risk development pool project. This initiative aims to combine the risk reinsurance of all five Brics countries into a single pool.

The reinsurance initiative will combine the capabilities, financial strength and insurance capacity of state-owned and private sector insurers within Brics to the benefit of domestic and cross-border trade and development.

South Africa’s financial services sector is rated among the best in the world and our country will take a leadership role in the development of this project. The third initiative that will come up for discussion at the summit is the Brics Development Bank. The proposed bank will mobilise resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in Brics and other emerging countries, as well as developing countries.

The aim is to supplement the existing efforts of multilateral and regional institutions for global growth and development. It is envisaged that Africa’s development will be enhanced through infrastructure developmental projects and the Brics countries will play a pivotal role.

We are convinced that the Brics grouping is championing a new paradigm for economic co-operation. This is also boosted by the International Monetary Fund’s latest forecast for 2013, which indicates that emerging markets and developing economies will grow by 5.5 percent this year, compared with growth of 1.2 percent in advanced economies.

Dr Rob Davies is the Minister of Trade and Industry

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