Kennedy Mavhumashava recently in Johannesburg, South Africa
African leaders attending the BRICS Africa Outreach Dialogue in South Africa yesterday hailed the five-member group for its commitment for closer co-operation with the continent.
The leaders, among them President Emmerson Mnangagwa, attended the Africa forum that was held on the last day of the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Rwanda President Paul Kagame paid tribute to BRICS for its support for Africa. He said industrialisation is important for Africa, adding that more investment in new technologies offers a lot of opportunities for the continent.
“We want to collaborate on key sectors, including industrialisation, infrastructure as well as peace and security, which are at the heart of the African Union’s Agenda 2063,” he said.
Mr Kagame who was speaking in his capacity as African Union chairperson, stressed the importance of stronger relations between BRICS and Africa in the continent’s quest for faster and more inclusive development.
“First, we have a common interest, in an open and fair international system. Second, strengthening cooperation with BRICS contributes to medium and long-term human security and wider benefits especially employment for Africa’s young population,” he said.
The African Continental Free Trade Area, launched in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, in March this year, he said, has potential to change the way Africa conducts business within itself and with the world.
BRICS is a group of the world’s emerging economies that seeks a more equal world. Its members are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Presidents of BRICS member states — Michel Temer (Brazil), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Xi Jinping (China), India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and host President Cyril Ramaphosa attended the three-day summit that started on Wednesday. It was held under the theme “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution.”
African leaders were invited to participate at the BRICS Africa Outreach Dialogue at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg as part of BRICS’ efforts to forge closer ties with the continent.
The chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) who is also Uganda President Yoweri Museveni urged business to invest more in infrastructure. He urged companies in BRICS member states to lead the way in investing in the EAC.
“The rate of return on investment for the companies in East Africa is always of a magnitude of 11 percent, compared to nine percent in Europe, eight percent in Latin America and 13 percent in Asia. The rate of return in East Africa will improve with improved infrastructure, which means lower costs of production,” he said.
“On the side of infrastructure, I particularly point out the plan we have for the railway from Kenya, through Uganda to Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Ethiopia. Tanzania is also developing a Standard Gauge Railway line from Dar-es-Salaam to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and through Lake Tanganyika to Congo. Such good infrastructure would enable us to trade more easily with Congo, Sudan, Ethiopia, as well as linking more easily with the outside World through the Ports of Mombasa, Dar-es-Salaam, Lamu, Tanga, etc,” he said.
Incoming Sadc chairperson, President Hage Geingob of Namibia, said the region stands to benefit more if the BRICS Africa Outreach Dialogue is staged every year.
Malawi President Mr Peter Mutharika said Africa should celebrate the rise of BRICS as an economic community that promotes South-South and North-South relationships. “We must also commend the promotion of dialogue in this community because dialogue is the tie that binds us. Our countries are at varying levels of development. We need to be constantly engaged in a constructive dialogue in order to maintain common understanding on the challenges and opportunities before us.”
President João Lourenco of Angola said: “We believe that in the current context of globalisation and information and communication technologies, our countries will be able to go through steps, thus shortening the path of progress and development.”