It’s high time for Africa to embrace BRICS

By Wang Xuekun
On 30 August 2023 at 12:56

Editor’s note: Wang Xuekun is the Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda. Views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of IGIHE.

On August 24, the 15th BRICS Summit rang down the curtain in Johannesburg, South Africa. This is the third time that the BRICS Summit has been held in Africa, which is of great significance.

The theme of the summit was "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism." It discharged a strong signal of the importance BRICS attaches to building partnership with Africa.

The summit decided to invite Egypt and Ethiopia as full members of the BRICS, which brings the number of African countries in BRICS to three. Obviously, the representation of African countries in this organization is enhanced.

The China-Africa Leaders’ Dialogue, which was held back to back with the summit, became a highlight. Chinese and African leaders jointly planed the direction and priority areas of future cooperation. Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward a series of proposals aimed at strengthening China-Africa cooperation in various fields.

Among others, China will launch the Plan for China-Africa Cooperation on Talent Development, the Plan for China Supporting Africa’s Agricultural Modernization, and the Initiative on Supporting Africa’s Industrialization. Those initiatives will play a key role in elevating China-Africa cooperation to a higher level.

This edition of BRICS Summit shows more clearly than ever, it is high time for Africa to embrace BRICS.

Firstly, the BRICS is an important, and natural partner of Africa. The international influence of BRICS is increasing at a rapid pace. Currently, the total population, size, economic output and trade of the BRICS account for about 42%, 26%, 31% and 18% of the world respectively. The BRICS has established close cooperation with a vast number of emerging markets and developing countries through the BRICS dialogue and the "BRICS +" channel.

With the addition of six new members, the influence of the BRICS will be further enhanced. The BRICS is committed to promoting win-win cooperation among developing countries, and serves as an important platform for cooperation between emerging market countries and developing countries. Africa is the continent with the most developing countries, and it’s only natural for BRICS and Africa to forge a mutually-beneficial partnership.

Secondly, strengthening collaboration with the BRICS is conducive to sustainable development of Africa. The cooperation in various sectors between Africa and China, the largest economy in BRICS, is a fine example. Over the past 10 years, the cumulative trade volume between China and Africa has exceeded US$2 trillion, and China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years. In 2022, the bilateral trade volume between China and Africa reached 282 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 11.1% year-on-year.

With China’s financial and technical support, the level of infrastructure interconnection in Africa has been continuously improved, and the gap of infrastructure of Africa is being effectively filled. Between 2000 and 2020, China facilitated the construction of approximately 100,000 km of roads, 13,000 km of railways, 1,000 bridges, 80 power plants and 100 ports in Africa, creating over 4.5 million jobs for Africans. The BRICS stands ready to provide strong impetus for Africa to achieve the goals of Agenda 2063 and move towards prosperity.

Thirdly, strengthening cooperation with BRICS is instrumental to enhance Africa’s international discourse power, and safeguard its legitimate rights and interests. The 15th BRICS Summit was held against the background that the world is undergoing major shifts, division and regrouping, which results in more uncertain, unstable and unpredictable developments.

The BRICS pursues cooperation in various fields, high-quality partnerships, and global governance reforms in a more just and reasonable direction. With that as its mission, the BRICS will surely inject more certainty, stability, and positive energy into the world. The BRICS spirit featuring openness, inclusiveness, cooperation and win-win results strikes stark contrast to hegemonism, unilateralism, exclusionism, and protectionism that are rampant today. The BRICS is emerging as an important force for safeguarding international fairness and justice, especially the interests of developing countries.

As of today, more than 20 countries have formally proposed to join the BRICS. This fully demonstrates the vitality, influence and attractiveness of the BRICS mechanism, and reflects the common aspiration of the international community. We expect African countries, including Rwanda, to seize the opportunity and strengthen collaboration with the BRICS, with a view to promoting Africa’s prosperity and improving the well-being of its people. Let’s join hands to advance modernization, deliver a better future, and set a fine example in the building of a China-Africa community with a shared future for mankind.

Wang Xuekun is the Chinese Ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda.