BRICS and Africa: Forging a New Era of Inclusive Global Cooperation


Africa is more than just a regional track in the BRICS development strategy; it holds the key to pursuing its true global mission.

South Africa’s role in promoting BRICS as an inclusive platform

As a member of the BRICS core, South Africa has been active in promoting BRICS as an open platform that reaches out to Africa and the rest of the developing world through the BRICS+ format. In 2023, South Africa will chair the BRICS group and has declared its intention to work towards a closer BRICS-Africa partnership.

The question of what the true mission of BRICS is still open. Some experts view the future evolution of BRICS through the prism of size, while others believe that BRICS should evolve into an open, inclusive platform that offers a range of modalities of economic cooperation.

The potential benefits of forming a regional platform within BRICS

The inclusion of South Africa as a member of BRICS marks a departure from the prioritization of weight and size towards inclusiveness and representation of all the main regions of the Global South.

South Africa’s chairmanship in BRICS during 2018 resulted in forming a platform that brings together regional blocks of the developing world, such as the African Union, ASEAN, SCO, and CELAC. This platform could revitalize BRICS development in several ways, including broadening the outreach of BRICS+ to cover the vast majority of the Global South.

Additionally, a regional platform that brings together the regional financing arrangements of BRICS+ countries could become the basis for a more effective BRICS Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA).

Forming a platform for regional arrangements could also serve as the basis for bolstering trade integration within the BRICS+ format, with the greater advances made by BRICS members in their respective regional trade blocks. As has been the case with BRICS CRA, trade integration stayed on the back-burner of the BRICS agenda.

Still, with the inclusion of more African economies, this could change and create a new regional layer of global governance.

South Africa is perhaps one of the least Realpolitik BRICS economies, committed to advancing the broader “beyond its borders” agenda of Africa’s regional development, the development of the Global South, and more balanced development for the global community.

As the chair of the BRICS grouping, South Africa’s goal is to build a platform for regional arrangements that brings together regional blocks of the developing world. This would be an innovation and a lasting contribution not only to BRICS development but also to the creation of a new regional layer of global governance.

South Africa’s commitment to the Global South agenda in BRICS

Finally, Africa is in a strong position to spearhead such efforts as it already leads the Global South to build a pan-continental free trade area, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the African Union likely to receive full-fledged membership in the G20.

The inclusion of South Africa in BRICS marked a departure from the track charted by the developed world in building alliances that are meant to serve as a basis for global governance.