Johannesburg is set to host the 15th BRICS Summit from 22nd to 24th August, with South Africa aiming to bring the African agenda to the forefront during the event. The Deputy Director-General of Exports at the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (dtic), Lerato Mataboge, emphasized the significance of the summit as an opportune platform to address key issues such as diversifying exports, increasing productive capacities, and enhancing entrepreneurial opportunities in Africa.
The theme of the highly-anticipated summit is ‘BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.’ In line with this theme, Mataboge stressed the importance of accelerating growth and value creation on the African continent. She called for increased investment flows to Africa, technology transfer, job creation, and improved economic inclusion and transformation.
South Africa, the current chair of BRICS, is ready to lead the summit following its successful participation in the 2nd Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg. The country also organized a Friends of BRICS National Security Advisors’ Meeting and the BRICS Urbanisation Forum in Durban, all contributing to the build-up towards the 15th BRICS Summit.
As part of the preparatory activities, the BRICS Business Editors’ Breakfast held in Johannesburg engaged the editorial heads of agenda-setting media titles. The objective was to outline the trade and investment posture of the BRICS Business Council, the economic work stream’s program in South Africa, and the economic opportunities for South Africa and the African continent.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was a prominent topic during the discussions. Mataboge highlighted its benefits, stating that AfCFTA creates a legal framework to remove trade barriers and unlock opportunities for local and global businesses. This includes creating regional value chains within Africa. Notably, women and youth-owned businesses are expected to gain substantial benefits from AfCFTA, with the necessary financial and non-financial support.
Mataboge provided impressive statistics on the potential scale of AfCFTA, stating, “The AfCFTA creates a single market projected to grow to 1.7 billion people and $6.7 trillion in consumer and business spending by 2030. By 2050, the population would have grown to 2.5 billion people, with combined business and consumer spending reaching $16.12 trillion.”
Furthermore, she highlighted specific industrialization opportunities, focusing on four sectors with high investment potential: automotive, agriculture and agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, and transport and logistics. These sectors are seen as critical to meeting African demand through local production and for their export potential to the rest of the world. The combined import value of goods and services in these sectors amounts to R2.6 billion annually.
The BRICS forum was established in 2010 with South Africa joining as a member and attending its first Summit in 2011. The primary goal of BRICS is to bring together like-minded, progressive emerging market and developing countries committed to restructuring the global political, economic, and financial architecture to be more equitable, balanced, and based on the principles of multilateralism and international law.
Over time, BRICS has expanded its cooperation across three pillars: political and security, economic and financial, and social/people-to-people. Notably, at the initiative of South Africa, BRICS has extended its reach beyond its member countries through the BRICS Outreach and BRICS Plus initiatives.
As South Africa takes the chairmanship of the 15th BRICS Summit, it is determined to promote Africa’s interests and ensure a partnership that accelerates growth, fosters sustainable development, and embraces inclusive multilateralism. With AfCFTA’s potential to transform Africa’s economic landscape, the summit is expected to pave the way for increased cooperation, investment, and trade opportunities in the region.