South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says he’ll use his chairmanship of the BRICS group of leading emerging economies to focus on advancing African interests. The bloc — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — is seen as an alternative to dominant Western economies.
“We want to use this opportunity to advance the interests of our continent, and we will therefore through the BRICS summit be having an outreach process or moment, where we will invite other African countries to come and be part of the BRICS because we do want BRICS in whatever BRICS does to focus on helping to develop our continent,” said Ramaphosa.
“Our continent was pillaged and ravaged and exploited by other continents and we, therefore, want to build the solidarity in BRICS to advance the interests, of course initially of our own country, but also of the continent as a whole.”
Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, of the South African Institute of International Affairs, said that trade would be a priority and there would be a focus on unlocking the potential of the recently formed African Continental Free Trade Area.
She noted that China, the world’s second-largest economy, is the continent’s single largest trade partner.
Implicitly hitting back at the West, Ramaphosa also said that “our continent was pillaged and ravaged and exploited by other continents and we, therefore, want to build the solidarity in BRICS to advance the interests, of course initially of our own country, but also of the continent as a whole.”
To that end, BRICS is about allowing the “voices of the marginalized to actually be heard,” the South African leader said, adding that Africa wants to better the living standards of its people and create employment.
BRICS might soon expand, as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, and Argentina are reportedly interested in joining the bloc.