SA to push the African Agenda at the BRICS summit

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pretoria - South Africa will host the 5th BRICS Summit in Durban next month - with the aim of harnessing the country’s membership to benefit the entire African continent.

This is according to Fadl Nacerodien, the Chief Director at the Policy Research and Analysis Unit of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

Nacerodien was delivering a keynote address to mark the official opening of the seventh annual Africa Institute of South Africa’s (AISA) Young Graduates and Scholars conference (AYGS) at the Quest Conference Estate, North West University Vaal Triangle campus, on Tuesday.

He said the BRICS summit, which starts on March 27, will present a unique high-level opportunity for South Africa to further support key priority areas of the African Agenda.

BRICS is an acronym for the powerful grouping of the world’s leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The first BRIC Summit took place in Yekateringburg, Russia, where the elected leaders of the four countries formally declared the membership of the BRIC economic bloc. South Africa joined the bloc in 2010, resulting in BRICS.

“The mobilisation of support for the African Agenda is a key priority of South Africa’s foreign policy,” Nacerodien told the AYGS conference hall which was full to capacity.

He said the BRICS have given impetus to Africa’s economic emergence and contributed significantly to the relevance and status of the continent.

“Over the past decade, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in commercial and strategic engagements between the BRICS countries and Africa,” he said.

Nacerodien is one of DIRCO’s representatives attending the AYGS conference from February 19 - 21.

The AYGS conference provides a platform for emerging African scholars to engage and exchange insights in the debates pertaining to the challenges faced by African societies, and in discussions about the way forward for the upliftment of African value systems and the ultimate integration of the African continent.

According to AISA’s Interim CEO, Professor Phindile Lukhele-Olorunju, the AYGS is one of AISA’s capacity-building programmes, which is aimed at providing research skills and experience, as well as the publishing and communication platforms for emerging young African scholars.

AISA is one of the science councils funded by the South African government through the Department of Science and Technology.

It was recently ranked number five out of the top 50 think tanks in Sub-Saharan Africa by the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.

The conference presenters are young scholars from different universities across the African continent including South Africa. These comprise students from the University of Zimbabwe, University of Bamako in Mali, Moi University in Kenya as well as major South African universities such as Rhodes University, University of Venda, Wits, University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria and North-West University’s three campuses, amongst others.

This year’s conference is held under the theme, 2050 – Africa’s future on the horizon: Prospects and challenges for development.