As South Africa chairs the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa grouping, and prepares to host the next annual summit scheduled for August this year, The bloc recently eclipsed the G7 group of developed countries in share of real global GDP[i].
Valued in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), the BRICS group now accounts for around 31.5% of global GDP, compared to the G7s 30% , a value which will likely further increase in the coming decades as the economies of China and India continue to grow. This is already leading reflected in economic terms, with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt recently joining the New Development Bank (which was established in 2014 by BRICS members), and their GDPs critical in realising this shift[ii]. BRICS now comprises over 40% of the world’s population, 30% of its landmass, and will likely expand through the edition of new members, including Saudi Arabia and Argentina, making it a strong force for global institutional reform[iii]. Promoting multi-lateralism and the peaceful resolution of conflict, the accession of these countries is likely to result in global economic reform and ease the process of creating a reserve currency that is both multi-lateral in nature, represents the global south and will be able to compete with the dollar.
South Africa is currently the rotational chair of the organisation, and is scheduled to host the annual summit in August 2023. Pretoria has maintained its intention of representing the continent, vowing to ensure that expansion is deep and representative, and criticising the roles of Western institutions, which had previously colonised the continent[iv]. The growth in the bloc’s influence and economic clout is likely to aid this, especially in a context wherein the recently formed African Continental Free Trade Area is likely to spur on economic trade, promote public-private partnerships, and unlock the power of the continent’s youth.
The growing influence of the New Development Bank, which aims to finance infrastructural and sustainable projects in member and developing countries, dispersing over 32 billion dollars in support of these projects already, will be critical in enabling this; Africa’s growth lies in unlocking the power of its youth and in governments creating the infrastructure to promote partnerships and cross-border trade, outside the interests of global hegemons and great power politics.