President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that South Africa has benefitted from being part of a collective hoping to advance a world order based on mutual respect and on the equal sovereignty of nations.
Last week Ramaphosa attended the virtual thirtenth BRICS Summit where discussions around the Covid-19 pandemic took center stage.
He noted that BRICS is of immense strategic important to the country and will continue to be so for some time.
“In the 11 years since we joined BRICS, our membership has substantially advanced our national interest. Being a member of BRICS has enhanced our position as an important emerging economy. It has given us access to policy and technical expertise of larger and established economies, as well as access to the support of the National Development Bank (NDB). It has strengthened our activism on the global stage, particularly around reform of multilateral institutions,” Ramaphosa pointed out.
He added that joining BRICS was a milestone in South Africa’s quest to advance its own national development priorities by forging stronger ties with the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
He explained that since the formation of the NDB – a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS States and whose regional office is located in Johannesburg – South Africa has been a beneficiary of financing and technical support for projects in transportation, clean energy, environmental protection, water infrastructure and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
Ramaphosa also highlighted that since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has received $2-billion in funding from the NDB under the Covid-19 Emergency Loan Programme to fight the pandemic and to support the country’s economic recovery.
COOPERATION WITH BRICS PARTNERS
There has also been substantial cooperation with the country’s BRICS partners in securing personal protective equipment and cooperation around vaccine access and distribution.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa explained that cooperation with other BRICS countries, particularly in the field of innovation research, will help accelerate the country’s industrialisation and help it meet its Fourth Industrial Revolution aspirations.
“In this regard, discussions were held around the creation of formal BRICS platforms to share best practice, knowledge and expertise, including the use of open source technology platforms. This includes the establishment of a virtual BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre and a BRICS Integrated Early Warning System to forecast future outbreaks of infectious diseases,” he added.
The President said the BRICS partners agreed that developing countries need assistance to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and that donor countries should honour their commitments in this regard.
BRICS partners also agreed to strengthen collaboration in catalytic sectors such as energy, information technology, science, technology and innovation, agriculture and the green economy, in support of economic recovery.
Ramaphosa noted that these are all important sectors identified in the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan announced last year.
The BRICS partners also highlighted the need for mutual recognition of national documents of vaccination and systems of Covid-19 testing – something that will be vital to cross-border travel in the future.
“The concept of mutually beneficial cooperation will be particularly important in the global economic recovery, where unequal development means that some countries will bounce back quickly, while others will lag behind,” Ramaphosa said.