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Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) play a growing role in the world economy. This entity is deepening its engagement with African countries and has gained great success in their development in recent years. BRICS’ atten-tion to Africa is determined by the important role of African resource potential and also by the continent’s growing influence in contemporary international rela-tions. BRICS countries are now the largest trade partners of Africa (China has overtaken the US as Africa’s first trade partner). Africa’s trade with BRICS is growing faster than its trade with the traditional partners and Africa has become the main destination for BRICS’ development aid. Investments from BRICS into Africa accounted for 25 per cent of Africa’s inflows in 2012. BRICS countries widely use ‘soft power’, developing cultural, scientific and humanitarian ties with Africa and take an active part in African conflicts resolution. Although there is a competition between BRICS’ member countries in Africa, all of them contribute considerably to the African economics.
The BRICS countries (China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa) have emerged as new effective actors in the world arena. Global economic weight and political influence of BRICS has grown. In focus of its attention are not only strengthening of the ties within the association but also the assistance to Africa, turning it into a field of implementation of emerging powers’ efforts to change the existing world order. Although traditional donors remain the main source of official aid and investments for Africa, BRICS’ presence becomes an important phenomenon for the continent and finds a positive response there. Member countries now act in Africa rather as competitors, but they take steps to increase mutual collaboration. Evidence of this is the last BRICS Summit of March 2014 in Fortaleza (Brazil) and its decision to create a new BRICS development bank. This decision is of special importance for African countries, because it shows that the BRICS countries are not only interested in African natural resources but also seek to engage with the continent on a long-term basis and are ready to render financial aid for its development.
This article seeks a brief portrayal of BRICS–Africa relations, an analysis of BRICS as a whole and of each member country’s policies in Africa. The purpose of the article is also to explore BRICS countries’ political and economic interests in Africa and the various patterns and strategies of each of these emerging countries co-operation with Africa. The main focus is on an estimation of the impact of BRICS’ aid and investment on the African economy.
BRICS’ Emergence and Growth
In 2011–12, the BRICS economies grew by 7.5 per cent, compared to the 1.5 per cent growth demonstrated by the G-7 countries. In 2012, BRICS’ contribution to global economic growth reached 50 per cent, making this group the principal driver of global economic development (BRICS New Delhi Summit 2012). In 2010, 231 (11.5 per cent of the total) companies listed in the Forbes Global 2000 originated in BRICs, up from only 83 companies (4 per cent) in 2005 (Gaunt 2010). The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 2013) found that BRICS countries had emerged as major recipients of foreign direct investment (FDI) and were important outward investors. The Global Investment Trends Monitor (GITM) in 2013 showed that over the past decade FDI going into BRICS has more than tripled, totalling $263 billion in 2012 (20 per cent of world FDI flows). Investment from BRICS to other countries has climbed from $7 billion in 2000 to $126 billion in 2012, rising from 1 per cent of the world flows to 9 per cent (SAFPI 2013).
Given this entity position as the engine for global growth, leaders of BRICS’ states have come together to demand a greater voice on the world stage. ‘The economic size of BRICS countries accounts about 1, 8 per cent of GDP’—said Jin Gonrong, professor at Beijing Renmin University. ‘But these countries are not the decision makers in the international economic system. They are only the athletes. The Western countries are the rule makers and judges. Right now, the BRICS countries want to join the judging committee, too’ (Mohanty 2011). Among the problems, which BRICS countries try to decide, are sustainable development, financial and macroeconomic management, investment, trade, technology and innovation, health, agriculture, energy, environment and climate change and food security. The BRICS agenda also includes reformation of the UN Security Council and responses to crises and conflicts in different parts of the world. All these problems are of vital importance for developing countries, so BRICS may be considered as the defender of their interests.
Now six BRICS Summits have taken place. The theme of the 5th Annual BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa, in March 2013, was BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation. The eThekwini Declaration, adopted by this summit, showed that African problems are a priorityfor BRICS’ policy. The BRICS countries declared:
Within the framework of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), we support African countries in their industrialisation process through stimulating foreign direct investment, knowledge exchange, capacity-building and diversification of imports from Africa…. We will seek to stimulate infrastructure investment on the
basis of mutual benefit to support industrial development, job-creation, skills develop-ment, food and nutrition security and poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa. (The 5th BRICS Summit 2013)
BRICS Countries are Changing the Economic Landscape in Africa
African economies proved resilient through the global financial crisis, the sub-Saharan region rebounding from a slight dip in 2009 to grow (World Economic Outlook 2011). Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) increased by more than 5 per cent annually in the recent years compared with 2.3 per cent in the 1990s (BRICS–South Africa Way Ahead? 2013, p. 62). According to Ernst and Young’s international decision-makers–observers, the investors may be optimistic about the region’s future. ‘It’s time for Africa’—they write—‘the continent is on an upward trajectory: economically, politically and socially…. A number of African economies have recorded impressive growth rates, six African economies were among the 10 fastest growing economies of the world in the period 2001–2010’ (Ernst & Young 2011). According to the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014 (WESP) report, after an estimated GDP growth of 4 per cent in 2013, the continent’s growth is projected to accelerate to 4.7 per cent in 2014 and 5 per cent in 2015 (World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014). According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), of the 22 countries that will expand by at least 7 per cent a year on average in 2014–19—a rate that enables an economy to double its size in a decade—14 will be in Africa (Marlier 2014).
In the past decade, African countries have made significant strides towards transparent economics and eliminated some bureaucratic barriers to trade and investment. Some countries (Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, etc.) have reformed their tax systems; some have eased operational conditions of transnational corporations (TNC) and improved their investment climate.
BRICS countries are deepening their engagement with Africa and are becoming the major actors on this continent. South African President Jacob Zuma said: ‘Already, Africa is projected as the third-fastest growing economy in the world, while the BRICS countries now constitute the largest trading partners of Africa and largest new investors’ (Zuma to BRICS: Invest in Africa’s Growth 2011). The idea that the BRICS countries are redrawing the economic landscape of the African continent came through in a report from economists of the Standard Bank. They based these assertions partly on estimates for BRICS’ growth— domestic output, global output and a doubling of BRICS trade with the world in general. However, they took into account that Africa was also growing rapidly: ‘Africa can be on the brink of economic takeoff, much like China was 30 years ago, and India 20 years ago’ (World Bank 2011).
The total BRICS trade with Africa rose from $22 billion in 2000 to $340 billion in 2012 and is projected to reach $500 billion by 2015 (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa 2013). Africa’s trade with BRICS grew faster than its trade with any other region in the world. India–Africa trade has grown from 2005 to 2011 at 32.4 per cent, which is higher than China–Africa trade growth at 27 per cent (World Trade Organisation. Confederation of Indian Industry. CII/WTO 2013, 18). Currently, the BRICS countries trade more with Africa than they do among themselves (African Development Bank 2013). India and China’s trade with Africa as a proportion of their GDP in 2012 was 1.4 per cent and 1.6 per cent, respectively, Brazil—1.2 per cent, Russia—0.3 per cent and South Africa—4 per cent in 2011 (BRICS–South Africa Way Ahead? 2013, 19).
Africa’s export growth between 2005 and 2011 to China was 28 per cent, to Brazil—14.9 per cent and to India—41.8 per cent (to USA—11.5 per cent). Africa is a major supplier of natural resources for these countries. Mineral fuels account for 70 per cent of Africa’s exports to China, 80 per cent of its exports to India and 85 per cent of exports to Brazil. The three emerging economies now account for nearly 22 per cent of Africa’s import, up from 13 per cent in 2005. African imports from India have grown 23.1 per cent, from China—25.6 per cent, from Brazil— 12.6 per cent. Africa’s imports from emerging economies are diversified: China— industrial machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, Brazil—agricultural products, India—cereals, food products and other low value-added exports have been replaced by refined petroleum, automobiles and pharmaceuticals (BRICS–South Africa Way Ahead? 2013, 19).
According to a 2012 report, released by the UNCTAD, BRICS’ investments in Africa amounted to a quarter of total investment inflows in the continent for 2012. At the same time, FDI between the group members remained limited: FDI stock in the other BRICS countries accounted for only 3.2 per cent of Indian outward stock, 0.2 per cent of Chinese outward stock, 0.3 per cent of Russian and Brazilian outward stocks (UNCTAD 2013). BRICS countries have strengthened their presence on the continent compared with traditional partners, such as the US and European Union (EU) countries. In 2010, for example, the BRICS share in FDI inward stock and FDI inflows to Africa reached 14 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively. The share of BRICS countries in the total value of African greenfield projects reached 25 per cent in 2012 compared with 19 per cent in 2003 (SAFPI 2013).
Among the top 20 investors in Africa in 2011, China, India, South Africa were ranked the fourth, fifth and seventeenth, respectively, in terms of FDI flows, while South Africa, China, India and Russia were the fifth, sixth, seventh and 15th largest holders of FDI stocks, respectively. Most of the BRICS’ FDI pro-jects in Africa are in manufacturing and services sectors, which has positive consequences for job creation and industrial growth (BRICS countries join top investors rankings in Africa 2013).
BRICS’ countries are becoming important actors in development aid to Africa; they help to build roads, dams, power stations, railways and buildings. FDI from BRICS enables technology upgrading and employment in African countries. According to UNCTAD, in 2009, 45 per cent of international joint ventures in Africa were with firms from the developing countries such as BRICs. This part-nership should help transfer knowledge and skills to African firms (Mlachila & Takebe 2011, p. 15). The spheres of BRICS activity become wider, including more and more items of vital importance for African countries. Among them are medi-cine and education. For example, the BRICS Health Ministers’ Meeting in Beijing in July 2011 concluded with the signing of the ‘Beijing Declaration’, which called for collaboration with international health organisations, as well as with each other in promotion of technology transfer and accessibility to ‘affordable, quality, safe medical products and other health technologies’ in developing countries (New leadership in global health 2011).
China as the Main BRICS Player in Africa
The most active BRICS member in Africa is China. President Bongo of Gabon stated that ‘in the past two decades, we have seen less of Europe, creating a vacuum which is today being filled by others—mostly China…Europe is no longer to be seen’ (Kingah, 2011). In 2012, China contributed 26 per cent of world GDP growth and in 2013—29 per cent (Gleason 2014). China is Africa’s largest trading partner. China–Africa trade increased from $11 billion in 2000 to $210.2 billion in 2013 (Xinhua 23 April 2014). China’s exports to Africa have grown at a pace five percentage points faster than to any other region in 2012, while China’s imports from Africa have increased by 26 per cent, which is twice the speed of China’s imports from any other region. ‘Today China accounts for 20 per cent of Africa’s trade. Africa is China’s fastest growing export destination and trade partner’ (Standard Bank 2013, p. 19).
In Africa, Beijing has already become the main donor and the biggest investor among BRICS countries. During a state visit to Tanzania in March 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Jakaja Kikwete signed at least 19 agreements worth more than $6 billion (Mail & Guardian 2013). China provides aid to almost all African countries, although its financing activities are concentrated in the resource-rich countries. In 2012, China declared $20 billion credit to African countries for developing infrastructure and the African Talent Programme, which intended to train 30,000 Africans in various sectors.
China accounts for more than 30 per cent of the total value of infrastructure projects in Africa; it assisted in building the new headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hospitals in Luanda, Angola, a road from Lusaka, Zambia, to Chirundu in the south-east of the country, stadiums in Sierra-Leone and Benin, a sugar mill and sugar cane farm in Mali, a water supply project in Mauritania, etc. At the Fifth Summit of Forum on China–Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing in 2012, Hu (2012) said about 100 schools, 30 hospitals, 30 anti-malaria centres and 20 agricultural technology demonstration centres were built with Chinese aid in Africa (Kingsley, 2013).
The state-owned China Development Bank (CDB) oversees government equity support for Chinese corporations’ commercial activities in Africa. CDB has overtaken the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank as the world’s largest financial institution for overseas loans. China–Africa Development Fund (CADF), a subsidiary of CDB, was launched in June 2007 with $1 billion fund to encourage and support Chinese business operating in Africa. In 2013, Wang Yong, the executive vice president of CADF, said that the Fund in the past six years has committed $2.4 billion in 64 projects in more than 30 African countries (CNV 2014). During his visit to Africa in 2014, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced new funding commitments of $12 billion of additional financial aid to Africa: China adds $10 billion to already committed credit lines of 20 billion and puts an extra $2 billion into CADF which would rise to $5 billion (Atuanua, 9 May 2014).
China’s state-owned Export–Import Bank (Exim Bank) has become the world’s largest export credit agency with significant and expanding operations in Africa. At the Africa Investment Summit in Hong Kong in November 2013, Zhao Changhui, the chief country risk analyst of Exim Bank said that China has pledged to provide $1 trillion in finances to Africa in the years to 2025, to be invested in various sectors of African infrastructure, industry and agriculture (Daily Brief Signup 2013). Ethiopian President Mulatu Teshome said that ‘these institutes are playing a very significant role in Africa’s economic development’ (China Daily 2014).
At the end of 2012, the African Development Bank (ADB) estimated that Chinese investments in Africa totalled $20 billion (CNV 2014). Figures from China’s FDI Statistics Bulletin for the year to September 2013 shows that China has increased its outbound FDI spending up to 17 per cent over 2012–13, in stark contrast to global foreign investments, which have declined by the same amount (Patlansky 2014). Chinese companies have become the most confident investors in Africa. In September 2012, the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRC) signed a $1.5 billion contract to modernise a railway system in western Nigeria; China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation signed a $400 million deal to supply locomotives to a South African firm Transnet. In February 2012, CRC announced projects in Nigeria, Djibouti and Ethiopia worth about $1.5 billion in total (Kingsley, 2013).
Now China is shifting development assistance for Africa from ‘hard’ infrastructure assistance to a ‘soft’ one (Zhand 2013). FOCAC Summits 2006 and 2009 included measures for promoting support for ‘hard’ infrastructure (roads, rails, conference centres and so on); by contrast, the Fifth Summit Con-ference 2012 attached greater importance to ‘soft’ ones, such as education, people-to-people exchange and joint researches (China–Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation 2013).
China plays a significant role in peacekeeping operations in Africa. By the end of 2012, Chinese experts and police personnel were assigned to six of Africa’s seven UN Peacekeeping Operations. China is actually the highest contributor of peacekeepers amongst the members of the UN Security Council. It was the South Sudan crisis with which China’s peacekeeping role initiated. The team of 331 officers and soldiers made a vital contribution to the conflict-ridden country in 2011. However, the UN Mission to Mali in 2013 was the first where the Chinese had a combat mandate (CCTV Africa 2014.).
Not to be Late Is India
As China, India has also greatly accelerated its trade relations with Africa in the last decade. India–Africa trade volume in 2010 was $46 billion (The Economist 2011); in 2012, it rose to $70.3 billion (India Business News 2013). During the third Africa—India Trade Ministers Dialogue in 2013, the bilateral trade target for 2015 was revised to $90 billion. The top six African exporters—Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco account for 89 per cent of total African exports by value to India (CII/WTO 2013). As an importer of oil and other natural resources, India has diversified its trading partners beyond its tradi-tional East African partners to include oil-rich Nigeria and resource-rich South Africa. Uranium from Niger, Uganda and Tanzania is also vital to India’s nuclear power industry.
India has also increased development aid for African projects. The footprints of the Indian private and public sector enterprises can be seen in Africa. Major private sector enterprises are the Tata, Mahindra and Mahindra, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Fortis, Vedanta, Kirloskar Brothers Limited, Bharti Airtel Com-munications, NIIT Technologies, etc. Indian public sector enterprises like Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh Limited (OVL), Indian Telecom Industries, Rail India Technical and Economic Services (Rites), Konkan Railways, Bank of Baroda and others are also very active in Africa (India and Africa: Towards Greater Cooperation and Growth 2012). In Uganda, Indian technological helpled to the generation of nearly three times more electricity, from 300 MW to 1000 MW more than had been planned at the Karuma Project. Another sector where Africa can benefit tremendously is health care and pharmaceuticals: the Indian government and private enterprises can be the major players here (Oluka 2012). The partnership between India and Africa has also signifi-cantly promoted the development of small- and medium-scale enterprises on the continent.
India has also made large contributions to the UN peacekeeping activities in Africa. It is the first of the BRICS countries and the third largest world contributor to peacekeeping with more than 8000 peacekeepers deployed in various UN mis-sions (United Nations Peacekeeping Troop and Police Contributors. Monthly Summary, 31 August 2014). India and China also take part in the struggle againstpiracy of the coast of Somalia. To counter piracy, a working group has been set up to look into the economics of piracy and three ships of the Indian Navy patrol the Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the area near the Seychelles at any given time (India and Africa: Towards Greater Cooperation and Growth 2012).
Brazil–Africa Co-operation is also Developing
Lula da Silva opened in 2003 a new era in the Brazil–Africa relations. Between 2003 and 2010, 48 African heads of state and 67 African foreign ministers visited Brazil (IPEA, 2011, 123). Trade between Brazil and Africa increased sharply in the last decade, jumping from $4.2 billion in 2002 to $26.5 billion in 2012 (Freemantle & Stevens 8 October 2013a). Minerals and crude materials make up at least 80 per cent of Brazil’s imports from the continent, while Africa imports mostly agricultural products along with ethanol and car parts (Begbie & Lai 2013).
Africa is among the main destinations of Brazil’s aid programmes. The main areas of co-operation are agriculture, health care and education, the transfer of knowledge and skills, best practice, social policy, primary focus on infrastructure, biofuel and energy (BRICS 2013). The main receivers of Brazil’s aid are the countries of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Nations (CPLP). Brazil’s co-operative efforts are co-ordinated by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (Agência Brasileira de Cooperação, ABC). The ABC was developing 77 technical co-operation projects, more than half of them in the African continent. In 2009, African nations accounted for 50 per cent of ABC’s budget and in 2010, this percentage increased to 60 per cent (IPEA 2011, 45).
Brazil has generally emphasised agricultural co-operation; it assists Africa in enhancing agricultural productivity and reduce the impact of food insecurity. The success of the Brazilian agricultural model is mainly due to the vertical integration of the sector, the strong support of the state and high levels of mechanisation. The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) opened an office in Accra (Ghana) in 2006 and is involved in projects in many African countries. In 2012, Brazil also set up a national programme that increased family-based agriculture. It also increases the capacity of Brazilian companies to export agricultural machinery and supplies to the continent. Another important project run by ABC and EMBRAPA in 2014 is the Cotton-4 Project, based in Mali it also benefits Benin, Burkina Faso and Chad. The project intends to increase cotton productivity in these four countries and also in Togo.
The Brazilian National Bank for Social and Economic Development (BNDES) has started in 2009 a line of credit worth $265 million and another one worth $360 million in 2010 for companies that were willing to conduct business in Africa (IPEA 2011, 7). Brazil’s investments in Africa are concentrated in mining, construction, agriculture, biodiesel, energy and pharmaceutical industries. They go mainly to Portuguese speaking countries (Angola and Mozambique) and to suppli-ers of oil (Algeria and Nigeria). More than 100 Brazilian firms operate in Angola and more than 30,000 Brazilians work in this country in construction, civil engi-neering, retail and education (Kiala & Ngwenya 2011). Above all, giant Brazilian companies are operating on the continent: Vale do Rio Doce (known as Vale) has works in seven African countries. A coal project in Mozambique is expected to create 4,500 jobs. Odebrecht has engaged in biofuel production in Africa. Brazil has expanded its business in the new African ethanol industry in Angola, Ghana and Mozambique (SAFPI 2013). As of 2012, projects in Mozambique correspond to 15.6 per cent of all projects run by the ABC in Africa and 22.7 per cent of EMBRAPA projects in Africa. The three largest Brazilian civil construction com-panies have projects in Mozambique, including transformation of the Nacala Air Force Base in an international airport, the construction of a highway that will connect Mozambique and Tanzania and infrastructure projects in the Moatize coal mine.
Brazil has provided scholarships for African students to complete their graduate and undergraduate education in Brazilian public institutions. It helped Cape Verde to create its first public higher education institution in 2006 and in 2010 Brazil inaugurated the Federal University for Afro-Brazilian Integration, opened to students and professors from African countries. Brazilian technical co-operation in Mozambique includes the training of Mozambican Armed Forces officials and the creation of a National Archives System (Lima 2012).
Brazil participates in UN peacekeeping missions. In August 2014, 1,684 men from Brazil took part in peacekeeping in the world, first of all, in Africa (United Nations Peacekeeping Troop and Police Contributors. Monthly Summary, 31 August 2014).
How about Russia?
Russia lags behind China, India and Brazil in promoting its interests in Africa. Foreign trade turnover in 2013 amounted to $9 billion, of which the share of North African countries was more than 70 per cent. Russia–Africa trade turnover in 2012 according to Rosgosstat was $12 billion (BRICS–Africa Partnership and Interaction, 2013), according to Standard Bank data—$9.4 billion (Freemantle and Stevens, 2013b). The largest part of Russia’s imports from Africa is made up of foods, cocoa (16 per cent) and tobacco (9 per cent), although ores, uranium and iron are of growing importance as its own resource base declines. Russia’s top African partners on import are South Africa (22 per cent), Morocco (19 per cent), Egypt (13 per cent); top partners in export are Egypt (48 per cent), Morocco (16 per cent) and Tunisia (12 per cent) (Green, 2013). Russia introduced a preferential system for the African traditional export commodities: no import duties and no quota limitations.
Russia is gradually making inroads back into Africa. In June 2010, an International Parliamentary Conference ‘Russia–Africa’ was initiated by the Russian state Duma. During the Conference, the International Business Forum— the biggest political event in the history of Russian–African relations—took place. The participants welcomed the statement of Russian political leaders that Russia ‘should return to Africa’. In March 2012, an Ethiopia–Russia Investment Forum met in Moscow; representatives of more than 30 Russian businesses involved in investments in Ethiopia participated. In December 2012, the first Russia–Africa Business Forum was held in Addis Ababa, under the chairmanship of Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi. A Russian–Arab Co-operation Forum at the ministerial level met in Moscow on 20 February 2013. A joint statement and action plan were adopted. The director of the Institute for African Studies, Professor Alexey Vasilyev, called the work of the Coordinating Committee for Economic Cooperation with Sub-Saharan African Countries ‘a testament to Russia’s business activity in the region.’ This Committee, which includes over 120 organi-sations and companies, ‘brings together the Russian Government and private organisations to coordinate their work in Africa’ (Vasilyev 2013). As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, meetings between African leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Durban has given new impetus to African co-operation with Russian business. ‘We spoke about prospects for the participation of Russian companies in major infrastructure projects on the African continent,’ he said (Business Africa 2013a, 29).
The bulk of Russian aid still goes through international organisations and funds, but Russia has written off $20 billion of African debts. In 2009–12, it allocated $100 million for aid to the poorest countries (Russia Slashes Africa’s Debt and Increases Aid, 2012). In recent years, Russian aid has focused on foodsecurity and health programmes, it has since 2005 made regular payments to the World Food Programme. In 2010, it paid $98.2 million for agricultural training and technology in African countries. Russia’s voluntary contribution to the Global Fund against acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), tuberculosis (TB) and malaria is $40 million. Russia has contributed $20 million to the WB Programme against malaria in Africa and paid $18 million to finance the World Health Organization’s measures against polio.
Russia is also involved in educating and training professionals. In 2008–12, it allocated $43 million to the WB for the implementation of an international pro-gramme of raising the quality of basic education, which was initiated by Russia. A total of 4,500 Africans study in higher educational institutions in Russia; 750 scholarships are annually granted to African countries by the Russian govern-ment and 8,000 African students received education at Russian universities (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, 2013).
Overall, Russian assets in Africa are estimated at $8–10 billion (BRICS–Africa Partnership and Interaction, 2013). There are 17 big Russian companies engaged in 13 African countries. Rusal, the world’s largest aluminium producer has opera-tions in Angola, Nigeria, Guinea and South Africa. In 2010, Rosatom planned to invest $1.8 million in nuclear power projects in Egypt, while Lukoil invested $8,900 million in oil exploration in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana (African Economic Outlook 2011). Gazprom, Nornikel, Alrosa, Renova and Evras have also invested in sub-Saharan Africa. Vneshtorgbank opened the first Angolan bank to have pre-dominantly foreign ownership, and then moved into Namibia and Cote d’Ivoire. Renaissance Capital owns 25 per cent of the shares in Ecobank, one of the largestbanks of Nigeria (SAFPI 2013).
Russian presence in Africa is growing and its co-operation with African states is expanding. According to the ‘Concept Paper of the Russian Federation’s Participation in BRICS’, Russia wants BRICS to be seen as ‘a new model of global relations, which supersedes the old division lines between the East and the West or between the North and the South’ (Paniyev 2013).
Russia is not among the leading actors involved in peacekeeping, but Russian peacekeepers take part in all UN missions in Africa. Russia also engages in training of African peacekeepers; the number of African peacemakers trained annually in Russia has increased to 400.
South Africa as a New BRICS Member
In December 2010, South Africa became the fifth BRICS member. It was officially invited to join the group, despite criticism that it did not belong there. Even Jim O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, who coined the BRIC concept, was not pleased with the addition of the ‘S’ letter. According to O’Neill, South Africa is a smaller economy and its GDP growth rate does not quite match up to the other players in the group (Begbie 2013). Nevertheless, the country’s influence within Africa makes this country an attractive partner for the BRICS’ members. That influence was visible in Copenhagen when South Africa, Brazil, India and China took an active role in climate change negotiations, giving birth to the so-called Basic Group. ‘South Africa’s accession to the group was in large part premised on this country’s role as a financial and logistical gateway to Sub-Saharan Africa, and on the continent’s huge economic potential’, said South African ambassador to China Bheki Langa (Business Africa 2013b, p. 10).
Since 1994, South African foreign policy has been pan-African. Former President Thabo Mbeki was among the initiators of the New Programme for African Development (NEPAD). South Africans declared that South Africa is not a donor, but a partner for other African states through South–South co-operation; as the director of the Centre for Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch University, Sven Grimm considers South Africa as a medium size international donor (Grimm 2013). South African financial privileges are the regional organisations, especially the African Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Besides, South Africa renders humanitarian aid to such countries as South Sudan (Republic of South Sudan), Guinea and Rwanda.
The continent’s five largest banks are South African and all of them finance African projects, though only the Standard Bank has an extensive continent-wide footprint. South Africa takes part in nine big African projects in the framework of the President’s Infrastructure Champion Initiative (PICI) and finances them fully. Among the projects are terminals in Dar Es-Salaam, Durban port and National Railway in Zimbabwe. The bulk of its aid is in the form of annual disbursements by the African Renaissance and Inter-cooperation Fund, amounting to 45–75 million in recent years. The disbursement under this fund goes to about 10–20 projects each year, some of which are in the post-conflict states and offer support to elections (DRC and Sudan) (Tjonneland 2013).
South African trade with other African countries has grown from $21.4 billion in 2011 to $24.5 billion in 2012 (SA exports to the value of $14.494 billion, imports to the value of $10.019 billion (Sandrey 2013). SA promotes investments through the Industrial Development Corporation and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), which provides funding for development projects in the region. The funding needs however exceed the capacities of the Bank and for this, it received aid from the ADB, WB and other financial institutions.
Over the years, South African companies have expanded their activity in the continent. Anglo Gold Ashanti, a major South African gold miner, has opera-tions in Ghana, Mali, Namibia and Tanzania (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa 2013, 16). The agribusiness firm Tiger Brands made its third acquisition in the Nigerian market, buying 63.5 per cent manufacturer stake in Dangote Flour Mills in 2012; in 2011, it bought biscuit Deli Foods Nigeria (Mthembu-Salter 2013).
South Africa is second after India as a BRICS contributor to African peace-keeping. A total of 2,250 men from this country participate in UN peacekeeping operations (United Nations Peacekeeping Troop and Police Contributors. Monthly Summary, August 2014).
The Effect of BRICS Countries’ Activity for Africa
There is rather a broad range of world problems on which the interests of BRICS and Africa are close or coincide and there are many fields in which they can fruitfully co-operate. Although there is BRICS members’ competition for markets and resources in Africa, there are also joint initiatives, such as the India–Brazil– South Africa Trust Fund (IBSA Trust Fund) managed by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) Special Unit for South–South Cooperation. The Fund has provided resources from the three nations to help fund projects in several least-developed African countries, including Burundi, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau. Brazil and China announced that they would provide free satellite images to African governments and organisations in order to support efforts related to food security, health and the prevention of natural disasters.
What brings BRICS together is a common interest in the formation of a just and democratic world order, based on a collective approach to the resolution of international problems and the superiority of international law. BRICS rejects attempts of one country or a limited number of countries to impose their will on the rest of the World. BRICS countries’ co-operation in the UN proves that eloquently. More generally, referring to the Middle East and Africa, it was reaffirmed that the use of force should be avoided. The bombing of Tripoli by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces was condemned by all BRICS countries, which called for a ceasefire and peaceful resolution of the Libyan crisis.
All BRICS countries are active in UN peacekeeping on the African continent. In August 2014, according to UN data, 8,108 men from India, 2,250 from South Africa, 1,984 from China, 1,684 from Brazil and 92 from Russia participated in peacekeeping operations (United Nations Peacekeeping Troop and Police Contributors. Monthly Summary, August 2014).
Every BRICS country has its own advantages in Africa. China has the best financial opportunities over other BRICS countries. It is the first trade partner of African countries, the main donor and investor, first of all, in African infrastructure.
Competitive advantages of India are its well-developed information technology and the services sector, based on nearly 50 years experience of co-operation with the African states providing it technical assistance and help in training of specialists in the framework of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme. Besides, Indian companies are more integrated than the Chinese in African society and the African economy, they are more willing to hire local staff and transfer their knowledge and skills. Another advantage India has is deep-rooted Indian diaspora, particularly in East Africa and South of the continent, which helps Indian companies to find local partners. Brazil’s advantage is the large diaspora of African descent.
Brazil is a Portuguese speaking country that preserves close cultural ties with Portuguese speaking countries of Africa. While it is difficult for it to compete with China in the financial sphere, it focuses on technical assistance, transfer of technology and agricultural techniques. Brazilian companies in Africa also use local personnel, thus contributing to the solution of employment problems.
South Africa is the largest and most diversified African economy and the only state of the continent that possesses world-class technologies. This country pro-vides the African presence in BRICS, although its claims on the role of ‘gateway’ to Africa for other BRICS states are not approved by some African countries. The advantages of South Africa are its initiation and development of modern eco-nomic strategies (NEPAD) and experience of regional economic integration (SADC).
As for Russia, its experience of co-operation with African countries in different spheres accumulated over the Soviet period and also its technical capabilities that allow it to aid African countries’ industrial development is beneficial.
Above all, BRICS countries have potential for new aid programmes. China and India have opportunities to become the leaders in manufactured goods and ser-vices. They remain the main consumers of more than 90 per cent of agricultural raw material exports and almost 85 per cent of fuel exports from Africa. Brazil has potential in agricultural products, minerals and transport equipments, South Africa in fuel and natural resources. For Brazil, Africa is a place for promoting its ‘soft power’, especially ‘the solidarity diplomacy’ and next-generation of energy. China, India, Brazil have indicated their willingness to enhance technology trans-fer and investment co-operation with African countries in the development of strategic and important sectors for Africa, such as agriculture, mining and medical industries. South Africa is a financial and logistical bridge for sub-Saharan Africa. Russia has substantial historical links with most African countries, which hints the great potential of bilateral relationship.
Economists from the South African Standard Bank write
Africa needs help. China is funding around two-thirds of Africa’s new infrastructure spending since 2007. China has a first-mover advantage, but others follow. Looking ahead a number of Indian infrastructure oriented firms will flourish in Africa. In terms of infrastructure, Russia is still to genuinely flex its muscles in Africa, though we expect this to change over the next few years – especially in transport related infrastructure. (Freemantle & Jeremy 2013a)
The extension of BRICS partnership with Africa demonstrates the growing inter-est of emerging economies in African energy resources, as well as in the growing capacity of African commodity markets. However, the increasing interdepend-ence of BRICS and African economics is useful for African countries too. BRICS countries’ attention to the needs and problems of African countries, their growing aid without political conditions, trade and investment boom, assistance to African infrastructure financing and constructing, the protection of Africa’s interests in international organisations, their interest in the formation of a just world order make co-operation with BRICS the alternative vector of Africa’s foreign policy strategy. There is a broad range of global problems on which BRICS countries and African views are close or coincide.
However, on its way to realisation, BRICS–Africa co-operation convergence potential encounters significant obstacles, especially in the case of China, whose practice in some respects meets critics in Africa. The BRICS countries’ competi-tion in Africa not only with developed countries but also between themselves prevents their common actions. Nevertheless, BRICS’ presence is beneficial for Africa. Africa is on an upsurge in the last several years and its growth is influ-enced greatly by the relationship with BRICS. Besides, BRICS not only creates a balance to the traditional presence of Western countries on the continent, but also impels the latter to pursue the new, more intensified set of relations with African countries and to support Africa’s development more actively.
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