Monday, June 1, 2015

BRICS meet for the scramble of Africa (the sequel)


Durban, South Africa
26 - 27 March 2013

BRICS and AFRICA: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma hosted the Fifth BRICS Summit on 27 March 2013 in Durban under the theme: “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation.” This Summit completed the first cycle of BRICS Summits and was the first time that the Summit was hosted on the African continent. This has specific relevance given that it coincides with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Organisation of African Unity/African Union (AU).
South Africa’s projected outcomes for the Fifth BRICS Summit were achieved.
  1. The BRICS Leaders agreed to the establishment of a New Development Bank and indicated that the initial capital contribution to the bank should be substantial and sufficient for the bank to be effective in financing infrastructure.
  2. In addition, the Leaders also agreed on the establishment of the contingent reserve arrangement (CRA) with an initial size of US$100 billion. The CRA would help BRICS countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures and further strengthen financial stability. It would also contribute to strengthening the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements as an additional line of defence. In this regard, the BRICS Leaders agreed to review progress made in these two initiatives at the next meeting of BRICS Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in September 2013.
  3. Another outcome of the Summit was the establishment of the BRICS Think Tanks Council and the BRICS Business Council. The BRICS Think Tanks Council will link respective Think Tanks into a network to develop policy options such as the evaluation and future long-term strategy for BRICS. The BRICS Business Council will bring together business associations from each of the BRICS countries and manage engagement between the business communities on an on-going basis. These two new BRICS structures that were initiated under the South African chairpersonship, that is, the BRICS Think Tanks and the BRICS Business Council, will strengthen intra-BRICS cooperation to develop new paradigms for sustainable and inclusive growth models, as well as new learning and knowledge paradigms to deal with our contemporary growth and development challenges.
Two Agreements were concluded under auspices of the BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism.
  1. The BRICS Multilateral Infrastructure Co-Financing Agreement for Africa paves the way for the establishment of co-financing arrangements for infrastructure projects across the African continent.
  2. The BRICS Multilateral Cooperation and Co-Financing Agreement for Sustainable Development sets out to explore the establishment of bilateral agreements aimed at establishing cooperation and co-financing arrangements, specifically around sustainable development and green economy elements.
The Summit outcome documents known as the eThekwini Declaration and Action Plan were adopted at the conclusion of the Summit.
South Africa assumed the BRICS chairpersonship at the Summit and will be responsible for the implementation of the Action Plan during its tenure. Human rights and gender, were for the first time included in the eThekwini Declaration. Linked hereto, was the welcoming of the appointment of the new Chairperson of the AU Commission as an affirmation of the leadership of women, which is an important pronouncement by BRICS.
Matters that are key priorities in terms of the agenda of the African Union have been strategically repositioned in the eThekwini Declaration in line with the Summit theme. BRICS Leaders reaffirmed their support for sustainable infrastructure development, as well as industrial development, job creation, skills development, food and nutrition security and poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa.
BRICS Leaders expressed their commitment to Peace and Security on the African continent. The BRICS Leaders furthermore called upon the United Nations (UN) to enhance cooperation with the AU, and its Peace and Security Council, pursuant to UN Security Council resolutions.
Regarding the global economic situation, a strong commitment to foster growth and financial stability was articulated by the BRICS Leaders in order to address unemployment. The Leaders reiterated their position that the reform of the International Monetary Fund should reflect the growing weight of BRICS and other developing countries and that agreement on the quota formula should be completed by January next year. The BRICS Leaders also agreed that the election for the next world Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General should be a candidate from a developing country.


Think Tank Workshop 1 by SANJAY SINGH
Published on Mar 14, 2013
Think Tank Workshop in Durban 8th - 9th March 2013 , Video by Sanjay Singh

BRICS meet for the scramble of Africa (the sequel)

Fwd_ brics-from-below - spread the word, thanks - and advice is welcome! By Nick Meynen.
When in 2001 the term BRIC was coined to group emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India and China – nobody saw them as a block challenging the likes of G8, World Bank or IMF. Today, at the currently held 5th BRICS meeting in Durban South-Africa (South African joined in 2010), these five emerging economies will be eager to show their strengthened relationships and combined power. But before people from the South put their hopes on the BRICS: they should be careful in what they wish for. They might be disappointed to discover that the emerging powers are only putting old wine in new bottles, while adding some sour ingredients.
 A South-South bank
The BRICS will proudly present their new International Bank for South-to-South money. India and China are desperate for a foreign exchange currency reserve pool to make their economies more resilient against shocks. It will probably start with a modest $50 billion and mainly serves the stability needs of these big players. Before impoverished countries rejoice at the thought of a new bank made for them: the self-interest of these big-five has a proven track-record. When the BRICS supplied $75 billion in fresh capital to the IMF in July 2012, the result was that China gained more votes – while Africa lost a substantial fraction of its share.
Some say that the rise of the BRICS represents nothing else than a new phase in the spread of the neo-liberal economical model. After the 4th BRICS meeting, nothing in The Delhi Declaration hinted towards an interest in promoting a New International Economic Order – as discussed in the 1970s. Whether it is being a part of the G-20 or being aspirants to permanent status in the UN Security Council for those who are not yet permanent, or playing a bigger role in the WTO’s Green Room decision-making, the emerging powers have shown more interest in joining the ‘big boys’ club’. And for those in the illusion that these countries have a strong bond beyond the immediate gain from pretending to be a block: Russia and China voted against permanent status of India, Brazil and South Africa in the UN Security Council.
The counter-summit
Civil society from all over the world is watching this new geopolitical constellation with a rather different view. They define uniting factors in the BRICS as socio-economic rights violations, political and civil rights violations, regional domination by BRICS economies and ‘maldevelopment’ – as EJOLT collaborator Patrick Bond calls it. Participants of the counter summit will be able to go on Toxic Tours of Durban for a more acute picture of the South African struggle for environmental justice. They will also discuss BRICS’s responsibility in reducing the climate calamity. They recall that in December 2009, in a small room in Copenhagen, Barack Obama and the leaders of the Brazil, South Africa, India and Chinademolished the Kyoto Protocol. In doing so, they are not acting for the 100s of millions affected by climate change – rather in their own short-term economical interest.
BRICS and the new scramble for Africa
But apart from organizing a watchdog role to the new BRICS bank and working on climate justice – one of the main priorities by civil society will be to expose the land grabbing undertaken by Brazil, India, China and South Africa. There are so many parallels with Berlin’s ‘Scramble for Africa’ conference in 1885 that there’s talk about neo-colonialism. Back in Berlin, five colonial powers (Germany, Britain, France, Portugal and Belgium) divided the continent back with one common objective: efficient resource extraction through export-oriented infrastructure. Before you dismiss the parallel as far-fetched, consider these figures:
A June 2011 study by the International Land Coalition suggested that land grabbing concerned around 80 million hectares, 64 percent of which are located in Africa, whereas the latest update by the same organization refers to more than 200 million hectares. That’s the entire North-West of Europe. BRICS investors play an increasingly crucial role (except Russia, which remains at the margin of the rush probably due to the amount of available land). The BRIC countries don’t even hide why they allowed the much smaller South-Africa to join them: the call South Africa the ‘gateway to Africa’. The hunt for land is open.
The case of Mozambique
The above figures do not include the 14,000,000 ha deal between Brazil, Japan and Mozambique. Brazilian rhetoric calls this the ‘dawn of a new economic era between Africa and Brazil’ But EJOLT already explained what this deal means for Mozambique – in a brilliant podcast from Devlin Kuyek.
At the same time, Brazil has used its legislative autonomy to reduce access to Brazilian land by foreign investors. So Brazil is clearly going for the capitalist expansion to the periphery, exploiting what they can at the cheapest price possible.
India also has an interest in Mozambique. The Indian based Jindal group which comprises both mining and smelting set their eyes on Mozambican coal in Moatize, as well as having advanced plans for a coal-fired power station in Mozambique, to create supply for the demanding elite-driven economy of South Africa.
South Africa is extracting 415 megawatts of electricity from Mozambique through the Cahora Bassa Dam, which has altered permanently the flow of the Zambezi River, resulting in severe flooding on a more frequent basis over the last years. Most of the cheap energy generated is fed into a former South African firm, BHP Billiton, at the world’s lowest price. Jobs are few and their profits are repatriated to Australia.
Russia’s Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation has nonferrous metal operations in Mozambique. China imports agricultural and fisheries products from Mozambique. It also became a major buyer of Mozambican timber; despite local regulations forbidding the export of unprocessed logs. In 2010, China pledged to invest $13 billion in industrial, tourism, mining and energy projects over the next five or ten years, depending on the source of the report. The largest Chinese investment so far is Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation’s $800 million to develop coal reserves for export to China.
And while everybody is scrambling for a piece of Mozambique’s resources and land, the country ranks 185th on the Human Development Index …out of 187 countries.
So how should civil society react to this increasing ‘collaboration’ within the South? The safest bet is probably to see it as a new phase of neo-colonial extraction that needs to be fought against. Any other stance is most likely to lead to more suffering.


  1. On Sigrid said:
    Actually I am in Nampula right now finishing off my field research on the Brazilian-Japanese-Mozambican programme Pro-Savana, and I have not been able to find a single trace of the supposed 14 million ha land grab after being in Mozambique for a month.
    If anyone can explain to me where this figure comes from I would be very happy to see the source. I am here for another week. Any tips on who to speak to to confirm the figure of 14 million will be much appreciated.
  2. On Nick Meynen said:
    The ORAM report provides the 14 million ha figure, in reference to the entire Nacala Corridor area. We have send Sigrid the report and if anybody else wshes to see it, we can email it.

No comments: