BRICS countries to push for partnership with Africa

Polokwane (South Africa), Jan 30 (IANS) The fifth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa) summit to be held in South Africa in March will aim at aligning members' interests with economic development and integration of Africa, host South Africa's minister Collins Chabane said Wednesday.

"We wish to align (BRICS member countries') interests in supporting the integration agenda in Africa, and not just focusing on access to our resources," South African Minister for Performance Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration Collins Chabane told an audience here.

South Africa will assume the chair of the five-nation group at the summit scheduled for March 25-27 in Durban. The theme of the summit is "BRICS and Africa - partnerships for integration and industrialisation."

Chabane said the four key focus areas at the Durban summit would be promotion of African infrastructure development, the establishment of a BRICS-led development bank, a BRICS think-tank and a BRICS business council.

He said South Africa's membership of BRICS should be understood in the context of the country's aim to tackle the developmental challenges faced by Africa as a whole.

South Africa was admitted to the grouping at the third annual summit of the bloc's leaders in China in 2011.

Chabane said South Africa's accession to the BRICS grouping was in large part premised on the country's role as a financial and logistical gateway to sub-Saharan Africa.

"Africa is the fastest growing power after Asia and offers the highest returns on investments of any region," Chabane said.

In 2010, six of the world's fastest growing economies emanated from Africa, and Africa's output is expected to expand by 50 percent over the next four years.

It was this potential that would enable the BRICS grouping to pave the way for "a new global pattern focusing on South-South relations ... overriding previous East-West and North-South constructs and divisions," Chabane said.

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