AFDB leadership calls for the expansion of the BRICS alliance in Africa


The BRICS Alliance, together with the new member additions, provides immense trade and investment opportunities for the African continent, Prof. Vincent O. Nmehielle, Secretary General of the African Development Bank Group, said at an event on the sidelines of the African Development Bank’s 2024 Annual Meetings in Nairobi on Monday 27 May." These countries are emerging economies with a growing middle class and a substantial consumer market; expanding into these markets will lead to growth opportunities for the continent,"  Nmehielle said.

The BRICS Business Breakfast, hosted by the South African Chapter of the BRICS Business Council and Brand South Africa, brought together key leaders and policymakers to discuss trade and investment opportunities for Africa, with a special focus on the role of the BRICS nations and their potential partnerships with African countries. BRICS, a grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has recently expanded its membership, to take in new African members Egypt and Ethiopia, as well as Iran, Argentina among others. The expansion, known as BRICS Plus, is strengthening the ties between BRICS and Africa.

Busi Mabuza, Chairperson of the South African Chapter of the BRICS Business Council, highlighted the platform BRICS Plus provides to explore and capitalize on available opportunities.

"The BRICS Plus countries are, as you know, in the main emerging economies with a growing middle class and a substantial consumer market. So for us, this business expanding into these markets can lead to growth opportunities for our continent," Mabuza noted.

The business breakfast featured presentations and panel discussions exploring current trade patterns, strategies for leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the challenges and opportunities of attracting private capital.

Mpumi Mabuza, acting CMO of Brand South Africa, said the country’s growing green economy accounts for 75% of FDI into the Southern African region, with 157 investment projects and a total capital investment of $27 billion, creating 15,000 jobs.

She also outlined South Africa's Country Investment Strategy (CIS), which identifies five frontiers of strategic investment opportunities: green hydrogen, next-generation digital services, special economic zones, industrial cannabis, and hyper-scaling environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact investments. Nmehielle stressed the importance of addressing trade barriers and deficits, saying, "By tackling barriers such as bilateral investment agreements, we can improve our exports and import performance." He also highlighted the need for knowledge exchange and transforming education and skills development, particularly in the face of AI's growing influence.

The Secretary-General pointed out the significant infrastructure and investment deficit on the African continent, estimated at between $70 to $100 billion annually, and the strategic role BRICS Plus can play in addressing this gap. He emphasized the importance of collaboration between the New Development Bank, the African Development Bank, and the UN in jointly identifying, preparing, and co-financing projects in countries of mutual interest.

On the topic of energy transition, Nmehielle underscored the need for African countries to partner with BRICS Plus to achieve a just and equitable transition. "Africa's South Africa's chairing of BRICS in 2023, under the theme 'BRICS in Africa: Partnerships for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism,' highlighted this crucial aspect," he added.

The event served as a platform for fostering dialogue and exploring avenues for enhanced cooperation between BRICS nations and African countries. As the business breakfast concluded, participants expressed optimism about the potential for BRICS partnerships to drive transformative investments in key sectors such as infrastructure, energy, and connectivity, ultimately contributing to a more prosperous and integrated Africa.

The African Development Bank’s 2024 Annual Meetings will run from 27-31 May in Nairobi. Click here for more information.  

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