BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism

In 2009 atits inaugural summitinYekaterinburg, Russia, BRICS spelled outits reform and development agenda. Its reform agenda sought a more equitable, fair, and democratic global governance system.
This improved multilateral system would have the United Nations at its centre, drive the reform of the global financial system and its institutions, and mobilize the global community towards development, particularly that of the less developed regions. A global acquiescence of this reform and development agenda was to be pursued.

Much has been achieved.
Global acquiescence continues to grow, evidenced by developments
such as the imminent expansion of the BRICS bloc, with many states from world regions having expressed interest in participating in BRICS related fora, including through membership. Today, not only has the bloc established a successful and growing development financial institution (DFI), the New Development Bank (NDB), the world is paying serious attention to the bloc as it leads a global discourse on currency relations, global payments systems, new trade, and other significant, impactful global discussions.

This development was never automatic despite the heft of its argument. Many commentators, particularly from the political or developed West, dismissed and ridiculed this effort as one that will never achieve traction, let alone achieve its objective. This effort was branded by scholars in those regions as devoid of any potential, devoid of any political, economic, and even military muscle to mount any alternative to the post-WW2 global order. Today, the BRICS bloc has developed many mechanisms ranging from finance and economics to science, politics, and cultural exchanges.

BRICS, at the center of the current geopolitical dynamics, remains determined and steadfast in its agenda pursuits. With its rise comes increased resistance from the current global order and its hegemons. Constant pressure is brought to bear on developing economies to pick sides in great power competition. With the new Western rhetoric of ‘de-risking,’ increased NATO engagements and its public posturing, BRICS has reason to maintain its course with increased vigilance, discipline, and collaboration. Much has been achieved, yet much more is yet to be achieved to realize the goals spelled out in 2009. It is necessary to continue to track developments and assess progress for their achievement and impact, and political parties have an important role to play in this regard.

At the 2018 BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue in South Africa, discussions were arranged under the following themes: Economic development, Peace and stability, Multilateralism, and the 4th Industrial Revolution. The intended outcomes were: To develop a possible approach to deal with common economic and political challenges to strengthen multilateralism and Develop strategies for the ongoing economic challenges and threats. This year, discussions at the BRICS Political Parties
Plus Dialogue will be ordered along the following themes:

1. BRICS-Africa Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth & Sustainable Development Much has developed since the advent of the 2008 global financial and economic crisis. Developing economies, such as those of the global South and Africa in particular, suffered greatly from the consequences of mistakes made by others in a system they had no role in developing or shaping.

The formation of the G20 and BRICS following that phenomenon was a testament to the need for reforms in the international system for it to be fair, equitable, and democratic; for it to be relevant to developing economies in the main, such as those of the global South and Africa in particular.

Before a full recovery from this devastation could be achieved, the Covid-19 pandemic emerged and inflicted further devastation striking a blow to Africa’s development initiatives and goals as set out in the ‘Agenda 2063, The Africa we Want’ of the African Union and the ‘United Nations Agenda 2030
for Sustainable Development’.

The emergence of BRICS brought hope for regions long-suffering the effects of underdevelopment. BRICS continues to achieve global acquiescence for its agenda but needs to sustain its relevance to development pursuits. The NDB continues to contribute to debates on a just energy transition, trade in local currencies, and a changing development finance landscape. These are significant global reordering achievements of the BRICS bloc that must result in greater relevance for the development objectives of the United Nations, the global South, and Africa. It is in this regard that discussions will aim to further concretize ways in which BRICS countries can play a catalytic role in driving Africa’s development priorities as articulated in Agenda 2063.

2. Inclusive Multilateral and Joint Action on Promoting Peace and Security through Dialogue and Negotiations The Covid-19 pandemic, vaccine hogging partly driven by narrow nationalism, and inadequate global distribution of health and pharmaceutical products has brought a sharp focus on the need to strengthen inclusive multilateralism practically. The increasing boisterousness of NATO, securitization of global diplomacy, the conflict in Ukraine, and the appearance of an aversion to peace and dialogue are causes for concern for policymakers and global citizens that carry their fears onto various platforms daily, including social media.

What are the steps to avert a global catastrophe and pull discourse, attitudes, and policies towards a culture of negotiation and peaceful settlements as is required by the UN charter? What is the role and contribution of the BRICS bloc, particularly in its expanded form to an effort to guide the world towards peaceful development and a shared common future? Discussions will thus be driven by these questions in an effort to address how BRICS can play a role in addressing the root causes of
various conflicts afflicting our respective regions.

3. Defining a path towards an equitable and developmental trade partnership for BRICS Much is expected from the often-engaged subject of intra-BRICS cooperation, the variances of their member economies, trade, and national interests, and their ability to cooperate fully in the economic and development field. The viability of growing their trading in local currency, alternative payment systems, and intra-BRICS investment are significant issues to resolve for progress in cooperation. The
BRICS cooperation on pharmaceuticals, health, and research and development, agreed to in prior summits, continues to offer opportunities for BRICS countries.

The expansion of the BRICS working groups to include mining, industrialization, infrastructure expansion of least developed nations, health, and the just energy transition could thus offer opportunities to deepen cooperation. These are critical areas for attaining sustainable development and a significant opportunity for the bloc to demonstrate its resolve and capability.

India holds the G20 presidency this year and has been raising these themes sharply throughout its presidency. Brazil will take over the G20 presidency in 2024, followed by South Africa in 2025. What do the BRICS take to this platform to negotiate a faster evolution of development cooperation, industrialization, affordable infrastructure finance, health, and a just transition?

4. Sharing experiences on political party renewal and governance, and mutual learning among civilizations. There is a growing number of mechanisms in BRICS for cooperation across various fields ranging from science to politics, health to economics, and pharmaceuticals to security. The growing global acquiescence to the BRICS reform and development agenda is evidence of the progress made through
these mechanisms.

It is necessary to review the effectiveness of these mechanisms to strengthen further mutual experience and exchanges on political party renewal, governance, and the successful implementation of developmental national agendas. This mutual learning amongst civilizations, and the creation of exchange mechanisms will thus be of great importance to the discussion. How can coordination and collaboration be improved? How can the interaction between political parties be improved? These
are some of the questions that will be discussed further.

5. Strengthening the institutional frameworks of BRICS and Expanding BRICS membership The New Development Bank (NDB) operates in the global financial markets, governed by an architecture that, at times, could be more favorable to the needs of the development agenda. The NDB, though successful, should continue to be strengthened, especially in an expanded BRICS with a strengthened institutional architecture.

How do political parties support the development of the framework and criteria for accepting new members? How do political parties support the BRICS bloc in public diplomacy, particularly with antagonists accelerating their anti-BRICS narrative? Is a standardization of participation of political parties from potential new members a viable option?