Honourable Ministers, Distinguished dignitaries, Esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen representing the realms of business and media, I extend to you a warm Sanibonani, Dumelang, Goeie more and Good morning!
Thank you for the kind introduction, Ashraf, and thank you, Honourable Ministers, for the context you have set and the insights you have shared, which are invaluable as we begin our programme for the BRICS Business Forum today.
Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the SA BRICS Business Council, I would also like to take this opportunity to extend a warm welcome to you all.
It is undoubtedly a privilege to be in the presence of so many distinguished representatives from across the BRICS Nations and the African Continent.
SETTING THE SCENE/ CONTEXT
I’m looking forward to the content rich programme under the over-arching theme of “Making Accelerated Growth and Sustainable Development a Reality”.
Today, we are here to discuss the critical issues that the BRICS nations, and the continent faces. Our agenda provides us with a unique platform for networking, knowledge sharing, and collaboration with business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders, policy makers from across Brazil, Russia, India, China, and the African Continent. We are extremely honoured that our programme is presided over by our respective Heads of State.
We have curated diverse sessions and panel discussions with representation from each of the BRICS countries, and the African continent.
- During the day, we will investigate the rules and regulations required to establish a working framework that can help to accelerate trade and investment across our economies. In an increasingly interconnected world, it is important for the BRICS nations to come together to build our economies through strengthening economic partnerships and unlock new opportunities and overcome shared challenges.
- We will explore agricultural development and synergies in the BRICS countries, as we strive for sustainable growth, it is important to address the critical issues facing the agricultural industry. Through the promotion of technological advancements, knowledge sharing, and agricultural finance, we can revolutionize agricultural practices and ensure food security for our nations.
- The other important panel discussion will focus on delivering a just transition. As we deal with the complexities of societal challenges &climate issues, we must build a pathway that ensures inclusivity and leaves no one behind. By promoting economic growth that embraces social equity and builds resilient societies that flourish under sustainable path for all.
- The entrepreneurial opportunities and market access as key enablers for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is another important conversation. BRICS grouping’s economic growth is depended on the success of our SMEs. By creating an enabling environment for entrepreneurship, providing market access, financial resources and supporting SMEs with favourable policies we can unleash their potential and drive sustainable growth for the BRICS nations.
- Africa also takes centre stage today with the African Continental Free Trade Area as a key theme on our agenda. The goal of creating the largest Free Trade area in the world across the African Continent is gaining momentum, and the opportunity looms large for BRICS nations in the context of a united Africa from a trade perspective.
POSTURE OF THE BUSINESS FORUM
- In today’s interconnected world, collaboration can help us not only to navigate the many challenges we continuously face but also help us to capitalise on opportunities that regularly present themselves. By working together, we can harness our collective strengths, leverage our respective expertise, and unlock new avenues for sustainable growth.
- Undoubtedly, the BRICS nations are at the forefront of technological advancements and digital transformation, and by jointly harnessing the power of technology, we can drive efficiencies and create new areas for business growth across our economies.
We must prioritise the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised among us and place inclusive growth and shared sustainable growth the core of our collective efforts. Investing in education, healthcare, and social infrastructure, can uplift our populations and create a brighter future for future generations.
The recommendations from the 2023 Annual report certainly indicate this focus. It was excellent to listen to the recommendations from the Working Group Chairs yesterday. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude for the many hours of work that have gone into the agreed recommendations that are in the annual report which will be presented to the Heads of State tomorrow.
As we go about today’s agenda, we must also take time to acknowledge and celebrate that our combined economic might and diverse resources are a driving force in the global economy. To add further context, remember that as the BRICS nations, we account for 25% of international trade, contribute over 30% of global GDP, and makeup just over 40% of the world’s population.
I encourage you all to make the most of the BRICS Business Forum and actively engage with one another, share your experiences, avenues for international trade and investment and propose actionable solutions that will shape the future of our nations and the African continent.
Throughout our discussions, we must remember that our strength lies not only in our shared challenges but also in our shared aspirations. We must collaborate, exchange ideas, and learn from each other’s experiences. By working together, we can create an environment that promotes a sustainable development and unleashes the transformative power of our BRIC nations and the African continent.
Finally, As you go about shaping this BRICS business forum, I leave you with a well-known Quote from President Nelson Mandela, “It is in your hands to make a better world for all who live in it.”