BRICS Summit Portends New Era of Cooperation and Development for Africa and the World

July 27, 2018

Lavrov Welcomes South Africa’s Initiative for Africa at BRICS Summit

July 26, 2018–In an article in the South African magazine {Ubuntu}, published by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “we support further strengthening of the sovereignty of African countries, their independent choice of the way of development while preserving national distinctiveness….

Sub-Saharan Africa is the most dynamically developing region of the planet, which plays a key role in world mineral and hydrocarbon markets, a broad and rapid-growing consumer market, and one of the most attractive investment areas,” Lavrov said, according to Moscow Foreign Ministry website.

Pointing out that BRICS-Africa Partnership that was launched during South Africa’s 2013 BRICS chairmanship is steadily developing, Lavrov said “we welcome special attention paid by Pretoria to Africa-related issues in the work of BRICS. This area of work is becoming increasingly important for Russian foreign policy as well. Russia has significantly contributed to decolonization processes and the rise of new independent states on the continent.”

Sergey Lavrov: BRICS a Stabilizing Factor in Global Affairs; Focus on Africa is Key

July 25, 2018-An article published in South Africa’s {Ubuntu} magazine, prior to the BRICS summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted the symbolism of the BRICS returning to Africa in 2018, the  100th  anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela,– “a prominent political and public figure on a global scale.”

Mandela contributed personally to establishing friendly relations between South Africa and Russia, he recalled, making possible today’s “high-level of a comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Lavrov particularly praised South Africa’s leadership in the BRICS, -“special attention paid by Pretoria to Africa-related issues,” that has become especially important for Russia’s foreign policy. “We support  further  strengthening of the sovereignty of African countries, their independent choice of the way of development while preserving national distinctiveness.”

Of special importance, Lavrov added, is that BRICS countries will foster cooperation with other associations and consolidate positions in international organizations to present a “united front.” The invitation to Argentina, Indonesia and Turkey, plus other African nations, to attend the July 25-27 summit reflects the BRICS-Plus initiative, he explained. “Thus we will expand the global reach of the Group and establish an outer circle of like-minded countries. In this regard, BRICs has good potential to become a unique platform for linking various integration processes in a flexible way.”

Coordination between BRICS and other major international organizations is crucial, Lavrov underscored, since consolidation of efforts “is a key to ensuring world stability and a way to settle serious conflicts.” He particularly referenced how the BRICS-Africa Partnership has advanced since 2013. At the current summit, “a special
outreach session will be held with the participation of the heads of State presiding over regional organizations of the continent in order to focus on its most relevant issues,” he said.

Why India Is Keen To Invest in Africa with China: An Overview

July 26, 2018–Ahead of the 10th BRICS Summit, China’s President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had embarked on tours through some African countries. Xi, arriving in South Africa on July 24, pledged $14.7 billion of investment in the country. During a less-than-24 hour visit on July 24, Modi pledged $205 million to Uganda. The sum is intended to help the East African country to develop its dominant agricultural sector and electricity distribution infrastructure.

Both Xi and Modi were in Rwanda earlier this week, where a total of over $300 million was announced in loans. The money will develop the tiny, landlocked East African nation’s agriculture, roads and special economic zones, CNBC reported.

In recent years, both China and India, which have been widely labeled in the West as rivals, have brought to African nations their focus on all-round development, investing to improve their infrastructure, agriculture, education, and technological skills, among other areas.

The reasons why they chose to cooperate and collaborate in Africa’s development are many. For instance, the African nations are most receptive to all actual developmental efforts, large or small. Because of the needs of the African nations, which had all along been looked at only as sources for natural resources consumed by developed nations, every bit of investment made in these nations has a positive effect and is welcomed. China and India consider that providing Africa the ability to develop will bring about a sea-change in the direction and magnitude of global trade.

India is keen to expand its economic relations mostly with Southeast Asia and Africa. For China and India, Africa does not pose any geopolitical threat. Moreover, the better understanding developed between Xi and Modi since their Wuhan meeting last April, enables both of them to work in tandem to improve the living conditions in Africa.

Putin BRICS Remarks Imply Need for New Monetary System

July 26, 2018–Very brief remarks delivered by Russia’s President Putin at the Johannesburg BRICS Summit today (apparently after a leadership meeting), implicitly point to the need for a new monetary system, and the basis which has been created for such a system in the cooperative banks, funds and institutions created by the BRICS, the Belt and Road and China, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Putin’s statement dealt with this. He said:

“We view positively the activities of the [BRICS] Council to implement joint multilateral projects. It is necessary to conduct these activities in close cooperation with the [BRICS] New Development Bank. It is important that the business community should help enhance the Bank’s loan portfolio. “The New Development Bank has considerably expanded its operations as of late. Members of the Board of Directors have approved 21 projects worth over $1 billion, including five that will be implemented in Russia.

“We support the idea of opening regional offices of the Bank. Talks are underway with Brazil on this issue. Hopefully, the possibility of opening the Russian office will be discussed after the talks.

“The establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement [to support countries under balance-of-payments pressure] deserves praise, and this has become an important mechanism for the prompt financing of our countries’ banking sector…

“In 2017, we met in Xiamen [China] and decided to establish the BRICS Local Currency Bond Fund. This is very important for the development of the financial systems of our states. Therefore, the Fund’s timely initial operations, due to commence in 2019, serve the interests of BRICS.”

BRICS Could be an Alternative Model of Development to Western Dominance

July 25, 2018–In a July 25 article published on the website of the Valdai Discussion Club, entitled “Brics and the World Order,” Georgy Toloraya suggests that the current BRICS grouping, plus other nations that form part of the “BRICS-Plus” structure (not official members) could offer the world “an alternative model of socio-economic development, differing from the West” that is based on “mechanisms of a liberal market or profit gaining…that assumes the dominance of the West.”

Toloraya is the Executive Director  of the Russian National Committee for BRICS Research. He debunks arguments that the BRICS is just a “China-centered structure,” intended only to promote China’s interests or its Belt and Road Initiative. These accusations, he notes, “are very sly statements. The Chinese factor is only one of the BRICS development facets.”

In today’s “turbulent global situation,” Toloraya adds, it is especially important that the BRICS “common denominator” grows. Why? In contrast to the G7, BRICS expresses a “touching unanimity, which is not faked. This is not a mutiny on the ship we see with the G7, when the captain led to one direction while the crew wants to go to another one.” By the time Russia takes over the chairmanship of the group in 2020, he notes, BRICS “could become a united center of the multipolar world…Now BRICS creates its own structure of global governance, and it must develop in that direction. I do not know, whether that could be accomplished in the context of growing counteraction from the West, but we have to keep working.”

Because the BRICS is a global organization, Toloraya concludes, “these five leading ascendant powers could create a world order that will be more just and balanced than what we see now.” It may not expand yet, but “what we see in the BRICS+ format, which is involving the largest countries that are not the group’s members, but show interest in it, is a significant step towards increasing the BRICS value and making this union a representative of the greater part of humanity.” On the eve of the Johannesburg summit, he concludes, BRICS is not {against}, but {for}: for just economic development conditions, for sustainable development concept centered on human beings.”

This Is What Hunger Looks Like — Again

     This tragic story should not have been necessary to be told-it should not have happened. Somalia, the Sahel and the Sahara could have been developed–should have been developed beginning at least 50 years ago when the nations of Africa liberated themselves from colonialism. It is a crime that the Western institutions refused to assist the young Africa nations in building the infrastructure that wold have led to economic growth and abundant production of food. If an East-West railroad had been built, if a South-North railroad had been built, the African continent would be totally different today and poverty could have been eliminated. 

NYT Sunday Review | OPINION  By NURUDDIN FARAH AUG. 12, 2017

    Mogadishu, Somalia — As I waited for my ride to collect me from the Mogadishu airport, an officer told me an apocryphal tale: A starving goat, blind from hunger, mistook a baby wrapped in a green cloth for grass and bit off a mouthful of emaciated flesh from the baby’s upper arm. The baby’s anguished cry brought the mother to her knees and she wept in prayer. The next day, a friend I met in Mogadishu repeated a variation of the same tale.
    I saw the story as encapsulating much of what everyone needs to know about the goat-eats-baby severity of the current famine in the Somali Peninsula, with more than six million affected, crops wasting away, livestock dead or dying, water and foods scarce. Cholera, typhoid and meningitis finish the job that prolonged hunger has started.
    The entwining of wars and famine has multiplied the magnitude of deaths among Somalia’s farmers and herders. More than half a million Somalis have been displaced since November 2016 by drought and desperate hunger, according to the United States Department of State. They have sought solace in refugee camps on the edges of Mogadishu and other towns. Somalia already had about 1.1 million internally displaced people.
    The families at the internally displaced people’s camps had left their scorched farms and walked numerous miles in punishing heat, across land stripped of vegetation. Parents go mad with despair at the sight of their babies dying from hunger, thirst or both. Hunger affects children’s memories. More than a million children are projected to be malnourished in Somalia, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.
    Memories of older famines returned. In 1974, I lived in Somalia when the rains failed and a drought worked itself into a famine. Our destitute relatives, who had lost several children and their beasts to the famine, turned up at our doorstep.
     Seventeen years later, in 1991, the Somali civil war destroyed the state and created a huge reduction in food production. In 2011, when another famine stalked the nation, I remember standing in the midst of a rainless ruin as the weak wind, as malnourished as the people, blew across a barren land, unable to stir the dust in the cracks of the hard-baked earth. The men and women I met were bereft of every vital element that gives meaning to life. About 260,000 people died of hunger.
    Lower Shabelle and Bakool, the two regions most hit by famine and controlled by Al Shabaab militants, are inaccessible. Al Shabaab denies the existence of famine in the areas it controls and has barred humanitarian agencies from reaching those affected. Sadly, the United Nations and the international community have also
refrained from describing it as a famine.
     I contacted a man whom I will call Mr. Markaawi. He worked with an aid group that ran a camp on the outskirts of the city for those displaced by war and famine. Since the collapse of the Somali state in 1991, one is more likely to fall prey to a bomb when driving on a highway, in a cafe, in a well-appointed restaurant, a luxury
hotel, a hospital or at a refugee camp. A journey away from one’s private space in Somalia renders one as vulnerable as a clay pigeon, ready to be shot at.
    Friends in Mogadishu, where I was visiting from Capetown, where I currently live, dissuaded me from traveling to the camps outside the capital. Mr. Markaawi helped me meet some displaced families at his office, close to my hotel.
     Again and again during our conversations I heard the refrain that the famine had been at work for months before it was being talked about, that the international response had been slow and that disease and child malnutrition and early deaths intensified as the famine spread across southern Somalia, more particularly in the
territories controlled by Al Shabaab.
     Moreover, the dysfunction of the Somali state, its inability to improve the economy and meet its people’s needs, the long war and the corruption of the political class had forced the Somalis to place greater trust in the international community.
     There was a clear sense that the current famine was more lethal than the one in 2011. “We lost a third of the beasts we owned in 2011,” a man said. “Now the devastation is more severe. We’ve lost all our cattle. No water, no food and no seeds to plant.” People took the only option open: They left. Each family in the camp receives $70 from the aid groups to feed and support themselves.
     I met Faduma Abdullahi, a 36-year-old mother of eight, who had come to the displaced people’s camp outside Mogadishu from a village in the Kurtunwarey District in southern Somalia, about 100 miles away.
     She and her sharecropper husband owned a farm and a house and survived the 2011 famine by bartering for essentials. This time they abandoned their farm and house because nearly everything they had was gone. The couple feared that they and their children would starve to death. “We borrowed the bus fare and came to the
camp,” she said. From the $70 an NGO gives them, they pay a fee for a villager to look after their house.
     Nobody from the Somali government or a foreign organization had visited their farming village to offer assistance. I had heard of Muslim charities working in the area near her village. I wondered if they ever helped. “We never set eyes on an Arab,” Ms. Abdullahi said.
     Many villagers — like a farmer and a teacher whom I shall call Mohamed Mahmoud Mohamed, for his safety — were willing to survive on little and stay, but threats and fear of enforced recruitment by Al Shabaab made them leave. Mr. Mohamed, a 43-year-old father of three, ran a Quranic school with 60 students in his village. He farmed and raised cows when he wasn’t teaching.
     Mr. Mohamed had no more milk to sell. His cows died in the famine. His classroom began emptying as the students left with their parents. The absence of rain, water and food forced him and his family to debate whether they should join the exodus. Mr. Mohamed said he wanted to stay and find a way to survive. Then Al
Shabaab began seeing him — a teacher of the Quran — as a man worth recruiting for their cause. Mr. Mohamed and his family left.
     I spoke to Mr. Mohammed about the tale of the goat and the baby. He was not surprised. “It doesn’t shock me,” he said. “Terrible famines change the nature of both human and animal behavior.”
     The United Nations Security Council was told by top officials in March that $2.1 billion was needed to reach 12 million people in several African countries and Yemen with lifesaving aid, but the member states and donors had delivered a mere 6 percent of that amount.
     Mr. Markaawi was worried about the gap between what governments and donors pledge and what they eventually deliver. He narrated a folk tale in which a starving woman hears the moo of a cow coming from the heavens and she prays to Allah to bring down the cow so that she can feed her starving children. The cow,
when it presents itself to the woman, turns out to be a hyena. I asked him to interpret the folk tale. “I would say that no aid whose main aim is to provide stopgap emergency humanitarian assistance is good enough to do the job.”
Nuruddin Farah is the author, most recently, of the novel “Hiding in Plain Sight.”

The BRICS New Development Bank Provides An Alternative 

President Jacob Zuma presides over official launch of African Regional Centre of BRICS New Development Bank, 17 Aug, 2017

The President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Mr Jacob Zuma, will preside over the launch of the African Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) on 17 August 2017. The President will be joined by the President of the NDB, Mr Kundapur Vaman Kamath, cabinet ministers, NDB executives and other dignitaries.

BRICS countries signed the Agreement establishing the New Development Bank at the Sixth BRICS Summit in July 2014 in Brazil, and the Seventh BRICS Summit marked the entry into force of the Agreement on the New Development Bank. The NDB headquarters were officially opened in Shanghai, China in February 2016.

Another key resolution taken at the Summit was to establish regional offices that would perform the important function of identifying and preparing proposals for viable projects that the Bank could fund in the respective regions.

The first of its kind would be set up in Johannesburg, South Africa. The launch of the African Regional Centre will showcase the NDB’s service offering, highlighting the Bank’s potential role in the area of infrastructure and sustainable development in emerging and developing countries.