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Global South Cooperation: Should Africa bet on BRICS?

In March, the Nigerian capital hosted a one-day summit on BRICS and Global South Cooperation. The meeting of diplomatic representatives, politicians, academics and public figures discussed the prospects for African countries to join the growing international organization and the possibility for the continent’s states to participate in large-scale projects.

Since this year, BRICS, which previously consisted of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, has welcomed a group of new members consisting of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Ethiopia and the UAE, which has significantly strengthened both the organization’s overall strength and its potential for influence in the international arena. Today, the alliance of world and regional powers independent of the US and the West already consists of countries with a combined population of more than 3.6 billion people and a combined GDP exceeding 37 per cent of the world economy.

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It is also worth noting that today the BRICS armies, naval and nuclear forces significantly exceed the joint military potential of the United States and NATO, and the new organization is ahead of all other countries of the planet combined in terms of energy and mineral resources.

Although at the first stage of its existence BRICS, like other non-Western international organizations and alliances, was seen solely as a political club and discussion platform, over the past few years this organization has been rapidly expanding its political and economic institutions, cooperation programmes in a multitude of areas and platforms for interaction. Already today, the new bloc of countries can be confidently called a real alternative to such structures as the G7 or the EU, and the dynamics of its development are very promising for the Global South.

An important advantage of the BRICS is its fundamentally different approach to admission of new members and building mutual relations, which excludes the dominance of stronger or richer members, as is the case in Western organizations and alliances. Moreover, the BRICS projects already in place in relation to potential allies from Africa, the Middle East and Latin America allow them to obtain the status of a full partner even before joining the organization and to participate in investment, humanitarian, scientific and cultural cooperation programmes.

The BRICS’ endeavor to build new mechanisms in the trade, economic and financial sectors that would allow them to get rid of the dominance of a small group of Western countries such as the US, Britain, or the EU in these areas is extremely important for all independent and sovereign countries in the current situation. The events of the last decade have shown that the monopoly of American, British and European states and corporations in banking, insurance, and investment activities not only excludes the full development of independent countries of the Global South but also makes them hostages of Washington and the Europeans.

Thus, in recent years a number of very large countries, such as Russia, China and Iran, have been repeatedly subjected to illegal discriminatory sanctions by the West based on the power of its financial institutions and influence in international organizations.

If even the world’s major powers with huge economies, populations and nuclear weapons can be cut off from American and European-controlled bank transfer systems, denied access to technology or restricted in their right to free trade, it is frightening to imagine the devastating impact that Washington, London and Brussels could have on small and poor countries. This is why the independent institutions and systems now being developed within the BRICS framework are so valuable to both the current members of the alliance and their partners.

Africa, which even in the post-colonial era has been the object of severe exploitation by the “golden billion”, should now move at a breakneck pace, if not to join BRICS as soon as possible, as do dozens of countries of the Global South, then at least to seek full-scale co-operation with the bloc. Given that Africa, its natural wealth and huge market remains a coveted target for economic exploitation by the US, close integration into the BRICS is almost the only way to avoid new Western attempts to recolonize the continent to rob it again.

In addition, such powers as Russia and China, unlike the countries of the “golden billion”, have repeatedly proved that partnership with them does not entail the dictate of monopolies, the establishment of puppet political regimes and the ruthless exploitation of natural resources. Since Moscow and Beijing largely form the founding principles of the BRICS, the values of this organization differ significantly from those of the West and do not pursue selfish goals or aspirations for hegemony.

Guest Writer
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