African leaders highlight investment opportunities to broaden BRICS alliance

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By Lucy Ogalue

Some African leaders say the continent will benefit from increasing its alliance with Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) group because of the many investment opportunities.

They spoke during a BRICS Business Breakfast in Nairobi, Kenya, on the sidelines of the ongoing African Development Bank (AfDB) Group Meetings.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the South African Chapter of the BRICS Business Council and Brand South Africa hosted the event.

It brought together key leaders and policymakers to discuss trade and investment opportunities for Africa, focusing on the role of the BRICS nations and their potential partnerships with African countries.

BRICS, a grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has recently expanded its membership to include new African members Egypt and Ethiopia, as well as Iran and Argentina, among others.

The expansion, called BRICS Plus, strengthens the ties between BRICS and Africa.

Prof. Vincent Nmehielle, AfDB’s Secretary-General, said, “The BRICS Alliance, together with the new member additions, provides immense trade and investment opportunities for the African continent.

“These countries are emerging economies with a growing middle class and a substantial consumer market; expanding into these markets will lead to growth opportunities for the continent,” Nmehielle said.

Nmehielle reiterated the importance of addressing trade barriers and deficits, saying that tackling barriers such as bilateral investment agreements can improve exports and import performance.

He also highlighted the need for knowledge exchange and the transformation of education and skills development, particularly given the growing influence of artificial intelligence (AI).

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The secretary-general said the continent’s significant infrastructure and investment deficit was estimated at between 70 to 100 billion dollars annually, and there was a strategic role that BRICS Plus could play in addressing this gap.

He emphasised the importance of collaboration between the New Development Bank, the AfDB, and the UN in jointly identifying, preparing, and co-financing projects in countries of mutual interest.

On energy transition, Nmehielle underscored the need for African countries to partner with BRICS Plus to achieve a just and equitable transition.

“Africa’s South Africa’s chairing of BRICS in 2023, under the theme ‘BRICS in Africa: Partnerships for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism,’ highlighted this crucial aspect,” he said.

For her part, Busi Mabuza, Chairperson of the South African Chapter of the BRICS Business Council, highlighted the platform BRICS Plus provides to explore and capitalise on available opportunities.

“The BRICS Plus countries are, as you know, leading emerging economies with a growing middle class and a substantial consumer market.

“So for us, this business expanding into these markets can lead to growth opportunities for our continent,” Mabuza said.

Similarly, Mpumi Mabuza, acting Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Brand South Africa, said the country’s growing green economy accounted for 75 per cent of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the Southern African region.

Mabuza said this was with 157 investment projects and a total capital investment of 27 billion dollars, creating 15,000 jobs.

She also outlined South Africa’s Country Investment Strategy (CIS), which identified five frontiers of strategic investment opportunities.

“These include green hydrogen, next-generation digital services, special economic zones, industrial cannabis, and hyper-scaling environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impact investments,” Mabuza said.

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NAN reports that the business breakfast featured presentations and panel discussions exploring current trade patterns, strategies for leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the challenges and opportunities of attracting private capital.

The event served as a platform for fostering dialogue and exploring avenues for enhanced cooperation between BRICS nations and African countries.

As the business breakfast concluded, participants expressed optimism about the potential for BRICS partnerships to drive transformative investments in key sectors like infrastructure, energy, and connectivity, ultimately contributing to a more prosperous and integrated Africa.

The AfDB’s 2024 Annual Meetings will end on Saturday in Nairobi. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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