The growth of emerging nations and their economic influence in Africa is changing the geopolitical landscape of the continent. Much of Africa’s growth in recent decades is attributable to BRICS, which is an acronym for the informal economic alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Some economists have suggested that the combined GDP of the BRICS nations could surpass that of the G7 by 2027. No matter the pace of BRICS economic growth, the implications for Africa are already apparent.
According the Guardian, BRICS has played an important role in Africa’s growth due to its, “increased demand for primary commodities and investment in mining, infrastructure and other sectors.” China is currently Africa’s largest trading partner and India is the largest purchaser of land on the continent. Brazil and South Africa have also made significant investments in African economies while Russia provides an abundance of arms to the region.
BRICS nations are also changing the pace and strategy of globalization. One difference between BRICS and traditional western powers is the former’s long-term strategic planning. Much of BRICS investments come from state-owned companies that are not so much concerned with quarterly stock prices or investor dividends. Without the pressure of short-term gains that is prevalent in the private sectors, these state-owned companies are focusing on abiding relationships and common national interests.
Another significant policy of BRICS nations is that will not interfere with the domestic politics of partner nations. This policy is compelling for African leaders that prefer to govern their nations without the persuasive presence of Western powers. Institutions such as the IMF or World Bank have historically insisted that partner nations institute free-market policies or electoral democracy. Alternatively, the BRICS nations are providing loans, trade and aid without political or economic stipulations. This policy has proved very attractive to African leaders.
In light of this policy, western critics are quick to mention that China’s presence in Africa gives rise to greater abuse of corruption and human rights violations. Because of BRICS non-interference policy, African leaders are free to govern in a manner that is not in accord with international laws or norms. For example, some have claimed that Chinese institutions helped Robert Mugabe monitor Internet and telephone calls ahead of the contested Zimbabwe presidential elections in August.
Criticism aside, BRICS expanding investment in African economies will increase money, goods and resources flowing into the continent. How this wealth is distributed among the poor and middle class remains a question. For now, African leaders are happy to receive investment and aid that appears to come with few conditions or stipulations. For their part, the BRICS nations seem content with open access to Africa’s markets, resources and land.
— Daniel Bonasso