South Africa will be hosting the fifth annual BRICS summit in Durban this week, marking it as the first BRICS summit to be held in the African continent.
“Africa has been excluded in all processes in the centuries that have come and passed. For the first time it is part of a serious grouping as represented by South Africa,” said President Jacob Zuma in his statement to the press on Monday.
South Africa is the newest member among a group of developing nations, including Brazil, Russia, India and China. Together, BRICS is believed to account for 25 per cent of the global GDP and 40 per cent of the world’s population.
The summit this week will host 19 leaders representing all five BRICS nations, including several African heads of state, and will focus on discussions around infrastructure, energy, financial services, mining and beneficiation as well as agro-processing. A total of 125 delegates from China, 125 from Russia, 74 from India, 60 from Brazil, and 242 from South Africa will also be part of the discussions at the summit.
On the eve of hosting the fifth summit, from the Presidential guest house, President Zuma said discussions during the week will include the launch of the BRICS Business Council, an effort to strengthen business ties between the five nations, as well as touching upon the BRICS Cable, a strategy with the goal of connecting BRICS countries by a high-capacity optic fibre cable of 28,400 kilometres “to remove the dependence on developed countries as interconnection points.”
Furthermore, the summit will also see delegates work towards establishing a BRICS Development Bank to assist in mobilising resources for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in BRICS and other emerging economies.
According to AFP, BRICS members are expected to contribute US$10 billion in seed money to set up the bank.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and China’s president Xi Jinping are reportedly also meeting with South African government officials for a state visit and to sign separate deals on defence, energy, science and technology.
BRIC was first conceived in 2001 by Goldman Sachs as part of an economic modeling exercise to forecast global economic trends over the next half century,according to the BRICS website. South Africa joined BRIC in 2011 and four summits have been held so far, the last of which was in India in March 2012.