The 15th BRICS Summit and the challenges of viable partnerships
By Aliyu Othman
The fifteenth summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, popularly called BRICS, ended in Johannesburg, South Africa, with new hopes of better opportunities for nations to partner with each other under acceptable terms.
As a group of major emerging and developing economies, BRICS accounts for more than 42% of the world’s population, 30% of the world’s territory, and 23% of the global economy, with control of 18% of global trade.
The bloc was founded on the values of shared commitment to restructuring the global political, economic, and financial architecture to be fair, balanced, and representative, resting on pillars of multilateralism and international law for the mutual benefit of nations of the world.
The fifteenth summit tagged: “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Growth, Development and Inclusive Multilateralism, was organized with a clear focus on facilitating collaboration on economic growth, trade, and investments through dedicated working groups that started in 2011 with promising growth for member nations.
With clear policies, direction, and commitment of members, BRICS led to the establishment of the New Development Bank (NDB) in 2014. It marked a strategic departure, enabling funding for sustainable projects, thereby reducing reliance on conventional financial institutions like the Bretton Woods system and the Paris Club of Creditors.
The Johannesburg summit was the first face-to-face discussion forum after the COVID-19 pandemic that provided another window of hope for the successes of BRICS countries towards cooperation for economic development, trade, and crisis management in the world.
The BRICS coalition focused on three foundational pillars, financial and economic collaboration, political and security cooperation, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
Among these pillars, financial and economic collaboration is central to fostering trade, investment, and sustainable development among member nations. This is effectively being pursued through the New Development Bank activities, using the Chinese currency, the Yuan, for lending to channel resources into infrastructure and developmental projects across emerging economies.
The second pillar, political and security cooperation, is a platform for synchronized discourse on global issues to fortify global stability and security. It coordinates efforts on counter-terrorism, conflict resolution, and multilateral reforms, reflecting the collective pursuit of a multi-polar world order.
The third pillar, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, promotes intercultural engagement for mutual understanding of member nations. Others include educational exchanges, cultural events, and collaborative ventures in science, technology, and innovations.
To drive these policies for the desired results, the Fifteenth Summit extended its membership to countries out of the about forty nations that showed interest and the twenty-three that applied to join BRICS. Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been admitted as full members of the group with effect from January 1, 2024.
The expansion of BRICS membership, though on request of nations, should be balanced to make the group more inclusive and spread across the world’s continents.
Some leading African nations that have yet to join BRICS include Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, and Morocco amongst others. Countries from Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific should be encouraged to join the bloc to promote the objectives of BRICS for a better world order.
The Vice President of Nigeria, Kashim Shatima told the BRICS leaders that the body reflects Nigeria’s multilateral diplomacy objectives and provides a stability force in the multi-polar world politics that should be encouraged by nations.
Vice President Shettima told the summit that Nigeria did not apply to join because she was considering some diplomatic briefs before taking the final decision and assured BRICS of Nigeria’s readiness to collaborate for the sustainable development of the world.
The expansion is expected to significantly enhance the economic weight of BRICS and increase its role as a geopolitical alternative to global institutions dominated by the West towards a new world order.
In the past two decades, the BRICS countries steadily increased their share of the world GDP, from 11.74 percent in 2000 to 26 percent in 2022. Today BRICS nations contribute 31.5 percent of the global GDP, surpassing the G7’s 30 percent share. This in essence shows the potential BRICS has in serving as a turning point towards accelerated development of the world.
BRICS is projected to contribute to global GDP by more than 50 percent by 2028, further underlining their growing economic significance with high expectations from the developing and developed economies of the world.
It is expected that the far-reaching decisions of BRICS in the Johannesburg 11 Declaration that contained 94 points in the three key areas will accelerate the realization of the group’s core vision for a new world order.