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Africa should seek economic ties with BRICS

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-03-24 23:17

KAMPALA - Leaders of the world's leading emerging economies will soon meet in South Africa to seek ways of deepening their ties and forge new trade links with other parts of the world.

Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, or known by the acronym BRICS, will gather in South Africa in a move seen as a desire to deepen their relation with Africa.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the BRICS with roughly one third of the world's total population and more than a quarter of the world's land area, was estimated to have a combined nominal GDP of $13.6 trillion in 2011, accounting for 19.5 percent of the world's total.

From 2001 to 2010, inter-BRICS trade shot up with an average annual growth rate of 28 percent. Total trade among the five countries stood at 230 billion dollars in 2010.

Elly Twineyo, a development consultant at Uganda Management Institute, one of Uganda's major academic institutions, told Xinhua in a recent interview that Africa should embrace all these new relations as it seeks to pull millions of its people out of poverty.

"This relationship is important because Africa has no choice but to open up to other parts of the world," he said.

"We need a capital solution to Africa's problems. The capital solution for Africa is to look at remittances from our people abroad; the other solution is Foreign Direct Investment which comes in with technology and also cash."

Twineyo argues that while these relations, with the latest being the BRICS, open up market opportunities for Africa, African politicians and policy makers must know that African countries must be strategic in dealing with the BRICS just as they should do with any foreign partners.

According to Twineyo, African countries must champion their development interests if they are to mutually benefit from the emerging relation with the BRICS.

"It is important that all these partners that are coming in, including the BRICS, should bring in their products and look for market, but also if they want our resources, we need a mutual relationship that benefits both parties," he said.

He said the BRICS should not only focus on shipping out Africa' s mineral resources in their raw form, but help in adding value to the materials.

He argues that in the process of adding value, jobs are created and in the long run the economic growth of the continent is enhanced, unlike in the past where raw materials where shipped to Europe or the United States.

"Some of the relationships unfortunately between Africa and Europe and the United States have been so predatory in a nature that we did not get a lot," he said.

"We had the European Union Afro-Caribbean and Pacific states trade and economic relationship. Africa did not export a lot to the EU, with reason being the focus was not helping to develop quality and quantity but to continue giving us aid and continue taking away our raw materials."

Fortunately, according to Twineyo, Africa has now got an awakened political leadership that wants to champion the continent' s growth.

"Africa has a growing number of political leadership and policy makers that seem to understand what they want from partnerships. They want to help reduce poverty in Africa, enhance economic growth, increase jobs and incomes for the people," he said.

He argued that previously African countries were trading with their former colonial masters not on equal terms but in a servant- master relation.

The countries were also engulfed in persistent civil conflicts that stalled economic development.

Currently, African countries are championing their own development agenda despite challenges, like donor countries wanting to meddle into their internal affairs.

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