The BRICS Business Forum kicked off in South Africa as President Cyril Ramphosa urged member countries to tap into the emerging on the African continent.
Speaking during the BRICS Business Forum Leaders’ Dialogue in Johannesburg on Tuesday, August 22- Ramaphosa highlighted the vast deposits of mineral resources in Africa and the ongoing industrialization process noting that they were a testament to the continent’s key role in the success of the global economy.
In particular, the South African leader mentioned the availability of minerals such as lithium, vanadium, cobalt, platinum, palladium, nickel, copper, and rhodium- which are all vital in manufacturing batteries and other forms of sustainable energy seen as alternatives to fossil fuel.
BRICS Business Forum Eyes emerging markets
Further, Ramaphosa called upon BRICS countries to capitalize on the emerging market in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) adding that it will provide a wider and more resilient market for investors.
“From a South African perspective, there is massive untapped potential for investment in our country and on the African continent,” remarked Ramaphosa.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area creates a single market that is expected to grow to 1.7 billion people and nearly $7 trillion in consumer and business spending by 2030.”
Present for the dialogue were President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and a host of government representatives from other countries.
Also in South Africa for the 2023 BRICS Business summit are President Xi Jinping of China and Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister who is representing President Vladimir Putin.
In a bid to promote the opportunities in Africa, the theme for this year’s summit is ‘BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism’.
The summit will set the stage for crucial discussions touching on the future of BRICS as a trade bloc, among them the campaign to end reliance on the dollar in international trade.
BRICS countries have in the past hinted at plans to seek an alternative to the green buck as the means of exchange and reports indicate that BRICS Bank is considering lending money in Brazilian and South Africa’s currencies.
In his virtual presentation on Tuesday, President Putin claimed that the use of the dollar in trade between BRICS has declined, adding that the 2023 Brics Business summit in Johannesburg will allow further deliberations on the transition from the US currency.
“Incidentally, during this summit, we shall discuss in detail the entire range of issues related to the transition to national currencies in all areas of economic cooperation between our five nations,” President Putin noted.
Also expected to crop up in the Summit’s agenda is the question about expansion with several countries including Algeria, Ethiopia, and Egypt have expressed their interest to join the economic bloc which accounts for just over 25% of the global GDP and is home to 40% of the world’s population.
Despite reports about division among member states regarding the expansion formula, Russia and China have been open to the admission of more members as both states continue to grapple with sanctions against them.
During the summit, over 40 heads of state are set to attend or send representatives as the BRICS bloc looks to woo more partners.
Among the non-BRICS presidents present in South Africa for the Summit include Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu, Salva Kiir of South Sudan, Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba, and Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea.