BRICS should harness youth

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

As the country prepares for the 10th BRICS summit, on the agenda is how South African youth can benefit from the grouping.

“As we continue leveraging the opportunities provided by the BRICS formation, we must ensure that we infuse and harness youth dividends,” International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers said on Monday.

“Young people represent 66% of South Africa’s population and the challenge, at hand, is how to harness their collective potential to be productive and contribute to the growth of an inclusive, knowledge-driven industrial economy. On the continent the rate the youth account for is 60%,” Landers said.

He was speaking at the Speaker's Meeting held at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), in Johannesburg. The event was a platform for the department to highlight the importance of South Africa’s participation in BRICS and its benefits for the country. 

Landers used the meeting to highlight some of the progress the BRICS group has made.

The BRICS countries produce a third of the world’s industrial products and one-half of agricultural goods.

The Deputy Minister quoted the Standard Bank Report on BRICS published in 2017,  which reflects that as at the end of 2016, the collective Gross Domestic Product of the BRICS countries was larger than that of the entire European Union, and accounted for 22.5% of total global output.

Though the value of external trade relationships has declined, the BRICS are still a collectively profound trading partner for developing economies in general and Africa in particular, with these flows bolstered by investment on the continent, particularly from China, South Africa and India. 

In this regard, Landers said there is a general consensus that since its inception the BRICS formation has joined an array of inter-regional bodies that contribute to the global diffusion of power.

“It is not an illusion that BRICS countries collectively and individually contribute to the tectonic shift due to amongst others the increased economic dominance of China and the re-emergence of Russia.”

As the current chair, South Africa will host the BRICS Summit in July under the theme: “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

“South Africa’s approach to its Chairship is grounded in the intention to ensure programmatic continuity for BRICS and a committment to executing approximately 100 sectoral meetings, reflective of the expanded BRICS architecture. We also intend to bring a specific focus to the challenges and opportunities presented by the 4th Industrial Revolution,” Landers added. 

Already South Africa has proposed new areas of BRICS cooperation, which include a working group on peacekeeping, the establishment of a vaccine research centre, the establishment of the BRICS gender and women forum, the BRICS strategic partnership towards the advancement of the Fourth Industrial Revolution as well as the establishment of the BRICS Tourism Track of Cooperation.

The 2018 Summit will be an important milestone as it represents a decade of BRICS collaboration at the highest diplomatic level. It is expected to culminate in the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration, which will include BRICS’ commitments for the year ahead. –