Jump to navigation

confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 30th March 2023

What Africa could gain from the BRICS summit

Blue Lines

Discussions on the next summit of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are preoccupied with the question of Russia's Vladimir Putin attending in Cape Town, given the international arrest warrant hanging over his head.

South African officials who want to focus instead on making BRICS more productive for Africa will be heartened by comments from Jim O'Neill, the economist who coined the term BRICS.  The group should be looking at strengthening its voice in global institutions such as the World Bank and IMF, he argues.

The BRICS countries account for over 40% of the world's population but its members have less than 15% of the voting rights in the two international financial institutions, according to the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria. O'Neill's argument comes amid a push for a stronger African voice in institutions such as the G20 and UN Security Council. Adding Nigeria, Egypt and Algeria to the BRICS would be more significant than the AU obtaining full attendance rights to the G20. It could create a more coherent African economic bloc.

An expanded BRICS may also allow China to deflect criticism from the US and Europe about its stance on debt relief and restructuring negotiations. China wants the IMF and the World Bank to write off part of their debts to financially troubled economies as part of the deal. A bigger BRICS could win more African support for Beijing's position.