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Analysts see BRICS open opportunities for Africa

By David Musyoka (Workers' Daily)

10:57, March 24, 2013

NAIROBI, March 23 (Xinhua) -- The grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) opens up new opportunities for Africa to increase exports, Kenyan analysts said ahead of the 5th BRICS summit.

The forthcoming BRICS summit set to open next week in South Africa will be the first to be held on the African soil and will provide an opportunity for Africans to have more understanding on what the grouping is all about.

"The main contribution of BRICS as of now is to recognize that Africa too is an important economic player in the world. Inclusion of South Africa in the group means a lot for Africa. It inspires other African countries. It avails an opportunity to Africa to learn from Brazil, Russia and China of how they did it to achieve the economic progress they have today," Dr. James Oruko, a lecturer at the Egerton University, told Xinhua in an interview in Nairobi.

Oruko said BRICS is expected to offer Africa an opportunity to increase non-oil exports.

"Non-oil exports by Africa to other BRICS member countries are dismally low. Africa now has an opportunity to diversify her exports by utilizing the goodwill offered by the BRICS platform. I understand that there are already plans to form a BRICS development bank. This is important for Africa as it will create a new source of development funding," said Oruko.

According to Dr Agnes Kioko, a community development consultant, BRICS is an opportunity for the continent to diversify trade relations from the West to the rest of the world.

"It also offers a chance for Africa to learn how for instance, Brazil has been able to mechanize its agriculture, something that Africa needs urgently to meet its food security needs," she told Xinhua.

Kioko expressed hope that the African voice will be fully heard at the BRICS summit in South Africa.

Oruko believes that Africans "could start to see BRICS projects that are pan-African in nature. For instance, the proposed development bank may set some shares aside for other African countries to buy."

South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk has already called on the forthcoming BRICS summit to find ways of increasing relations with the rest of the continent. The matter is also likely to come up during the summit.

"So the rest of Africa may not necessarily benefit directly from BRICS immediately but I see a different scenario in five years when may be more African countries apply to join or BRICS finds a formal way of including the rest of African countries into the body," Oruko said.

"In fact during the forthcoming summit, there will be a BRICS- Africa Dialogue forum and this indicates the process of accommodating the rest of Africa has started."

He said his expectations for the forthcoming BRICS summit are that more Africans will be able to know about BRICS because as it is the first summit being held in the continent, there will be proposals on how BRICS can accommodate rest of Africa.

According to Oruko, it will provide a platform for setting alternative global agenda on trade by developing countries and that leaders will make new proposals on reforming and strengthening global financial system.

He also expects China to be sympathetic to calls to find ways of accommodating other African countries.

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