Africa Caucus: Africa’s Place in The BRICS Bloc
12:08am Constitution Hill
As the host of the BRICS Summit and the chair of the BRICS group, South Africa is advancing the interests of African States under the theme of 'BRICS and Africa partnership for mutually accelerated growth, sustainable development and multilateralism'. Through the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA), the Gauteng province, in collaboration with the BRICS Business Council, supported by the Organisation for Global Africa Cooperation, convened an Africa Caucus of business representatives and ambassadors.
The panel included Lerato Mataboge, Deputy Director General in the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (dtic); Yofi Grant, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre; Saki Zamxaka, Acting Group CEO of the Gauteng Growth & Development Agency and Athumani Mkayandika, Chief Investment Officer at the Tanzania Investment Centre.
One of the caucus' objectives was to identify opportunities and challenges towards implementing the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement and the role of IPAs in facilitating BRICS investments.
In her welcome address, the MEC for the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, Ms Tasneem Motara, shared how the Growing Gauteng Together 2023 plan is an expression of the implementation of Agenda 2063 in an effort to build the Africa we want. She outlined how the provincial plan has identified specific actions to expand intra-Africa commerce, which include expanding sub-national economic diplomacy and intensifying collaboration in various provinces and city regions on the continent; to formally showcase regional and continental partnerships and potential areas for collaboration based on Gauteng's ten high-growth sectors and to promote continental investment in Gauteng-based businesses to help grow trade links.
Gauteng exports to Africa account for 31.1 % of all Gauteng exports, making Africa the 2nd largest destination for Gauteng exports after Asia. Since 2015, Gauteng has received R406.5 billion worth of goods from the continent and exported R1.19 trillion worth of goods to the continent.
It is important to note that the GGDA is a member of the African Business Council (AfBC), a private and public business facilitation entity of the African Union across the continent and that the creation of a regional market, through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), is a significant opportunity to help African countries diversify their exports, accelerate growth, and attract foreign direct investment from BRICS member states, thereby intensifying the global value-added economic participation of the continent.
GGDA Acting Group CEO Saki Zamxaka stressed that we should be asking which businesses have the potential to export and then actively support those businesses and that we can't get away from developing our sectors and taking advantage of the opportunities it will create. He did, however, warn that improvements in logistics are not just for us to move amongst ourselves but also for our competitors, meaning they can learn something at the port and get the product where it needs to be quicker and cheaper.
The overall sentiment was one of optimism, with Lerato Mataboge, DDG in the Department of Trade Industry and Competition, emphasising how we are going into the BRICS Summit with an African voice, that "Africa is the future and she is ready to take her place among the community of nations. We are here as Africans, and we're going to pursue our integration very decisively."