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BRICS and Africa: Partnership for development, integration and industrialisation

08 March 2013
12:00 - 15:00

As part of the preparations for the BRICS Academic Seminar on 10 – 12 March 2013 in Durban, the HSRC is proposing to host an HSRC seminar on Friday 08 March 2013 at 12:00 – 15:00 on the theme of the Academic Forum which is ‘BRICS and Africa: Partnership for development, integration and industrialisation’.

Presenters :    
Prof Gilbert Khadiagla – Jan Smuts Professor of International Relations and Head of Department, University of the Witwatersrand
Dr Siphamandla Zondi – Director at the Institute for Global Change
Sanushu Naidu – Senior Researche at the Open Society Foundation

The BRICS group of nations has been a subject of intense discussions in the last few years particularly following South Africa’s joining of the group in 2010. The main subject has been how the grouping can or will benefit Africa particularly given the non-traditional group of nations comprising BRICS. As the most influential leading emerging economies of the 21st century world, the BRICS have evoked critical debates particularly on their capacity to sustain growth outside of the sphere of influence of economies in the western world and also for embracing the global south. What has emerged clearly is the central role of Africa and her economies in the development of emerging economies particularly China and Russia. Africa, resource rich as a continent, has in recent years received renewed interest from China and Russia. Many would argue this is an important renewal of relations which have been historically there but had suffered during the era of East-West control, competition for, and conflict the 20th century global world order.

For Africa, through South Africa’s participation, BRICS offers an opportunity to access markets, new funding partnerships and opportunities to enter into a variety of cooperation agreements which can add to the development of African economies. Without doubt the greatest advantages come with the lower costs of resources offered by these markets as witnessed by the growing appetite for Chinese goods which often have a better market price when compared with traditional partners. Similarly, India and Brazil offer greater opportunities for broad based development partnerships as countries in the developing south. India’s rapid transformation particularly ascendency in niche areas such as ICT and finance have inspired many African leaders particularly in the private sector to seek out partnerships with India for business. On the other hand, Brazil’s recent turnaround in terms of the country’s development and governance has also inspired leaders across the continent to use Brazil’s leadership lessons to engender people focused development within the continent.

Whilst there will still be many lessons to be learnt in the BRICS journey, what is of significant note is that South Africa’s entry to this group has lent a distinct benefit to the continent’s development agenda and repositioning in the global development discourse. As many countries on the continent struggle with accelerating their economic diversification and industrialization, the experience and expertise of the BRICS countries will come to play a key role in unlocking opportunities and efficiencies for Africa’s mining, manufacturing and related sectors.  As host country to the 5th BRICS Summit, South Africa has an opportunity to bring closer to home the interrogation of the question – what benefits for Africa? As an intellectual discourse this issue can be taken through various debate processes but of fundamental importance is the recognition of a window of opportunity for Africa’s thought leadership to tap into a diverse and solid body of knowledge within the different countries in BRICS. For the HSRC, this will go beyond bilateral research partnerships but will, in the long term, result in the growth of a rich academy with a more globalised outlook which will benefit the continent’s drive to enrich the development agenda. In addition, by tapping into the diversity of cultures offered by the BRICS countries the continent will also enjoy a positive enrichment in terms of the calibre of research and development assets it develops in the near future.

This roundtable aims to tease out some of the salient issues in the key debates of what benefits Africa can derive from South Africa’s membership in BRICS. Without doubt, these discussions will touch on issues of long term sustainable development, security and environment. Most importantly the question of what the BRICS citizen derives from this higher level development agenda will also be of importance in this thoughtful reflection. As a leader in Social Sciences and Humanities research, the HSRC hopes the round table will contribute to the variety of readings of the current and future possibilities BRICS can bring for meaningful social development and sustainability in Africa.

Kindly RSVP by 4 March 2013

This seminar may be attended via video conference in Pretoria, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal. Details as below. 

Cape Town : HSRC, 12th Floor, Plein Park Building (Opposite Revenue Office), Plein Street, Cape Town. Contact Jean Witten, Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299, or

Durban :  First floor HSRC board room, 750 Francois Road, Ntuthuko Junction, Pods 5 and 6, Cato Manor, Contact Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811, e-mail: , or Charmaine Galante, Tel: (012) 302 2730, Cell: 073 944 0408, e-mail: