BRICS opening opportunities for Africa’s youth, Business Day, by Clayson Monyela, 5 October 2023

Bloc partners have been useful in terms of finding ways of linking young people with potential employers and investors


Africa’s large and burgeoning youth population is considered one of this continent’s greatest assets, with a central role to play in shaping development.


The AU’s Agenda 2063 states that: “The creativity, energy and innovation of Africa’s youth shall be the driving force behind the continent’s political transformation”.


Multilateral platforms such as the AU, through its African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the BRICS bloc have what it takes to tackle the challenges faced by the continent’s youth by creating more jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities. Youth unemployment is central in BRICS engagements and discussions this year, when SA occupies the BRICS chair.


BRICS countries have continued to strengthen their presence on the continent, and as such have increased opportunities for trade and industrial development. As a result they have created employment opportunities for the youth.


Our BRICS partners have been particularly useful in terms of finding innovative ways of linking SA youths with potential employers and investors. For example, through the BRICS employment working group initiative a number of Indian companies operating in SA have taken concrete steps to transfer skills to our youth. India has been taking unemployed IT graduates from SA to India for six-month internships, thereby giving them international work experience.


There are also initiatives between China and SA to cultivate future leading scientists through exchanges with research institutes and universities in China. The National Research Foundation runs the China-SA Young Scientist Exchange Programme in the areas of biotechnology, ICT, space science, astronomy and transport technology. China has also hosted an SA-China job fair to connect unemployed SA youths with Chinese companies such as Air China, Huawei and Hisense.


Within the context of the BRICS memorandum of understanding on co-operation in science, technology and innovation, SA organised the 11th BRICS science, technology and innovation ministerial meeting under the theme “BRICS and Africa: enabling inclusive and sustainable development in a changing world through knowledge partnerships”, held on August 4. This was preceded by the eighth BRICS young scientist forum, which debated the role of science in responding to climate change and environmental sustainability.


SA also organised the sixth BRICS young innovator prize under the theme “modernising the manufacturing, agriculture and mining industries and exploiting the circular economy.” The young scientist forum and the young innovator prize provided a valuable platform for the development of scientific, innovative, educational, cultural and friendship links.


There is a strong correlation between youth unemployment, the SA education system and the lack of skills development. We are working to reform our education system to prepare our young people for the jobs of the future. Through BRICS initiatives SA has benefited from investment in education, intra-BRICS exchange programmes, job creation, foreign investment and increased trade relations. BRICS has been working with the International Labour Organisation on improving skills for workers in the informal economy to promote decent work.


The full implementation of the BRICS action plan for innovation co-operation (2021-24) is pivotal to promote technology transfer, innovation and entrepreneurship. Progress has been made by the BRICS science, technology & innovation entrepreneurship partnership working group to provide support for the BRICS incubation training & network, the BRICS technology transfer training programme, and the BRICS start-up forum.


As part of the deliverables of SA’s chairship, a BRICS centre of excellence in Africa will be established, which will evolve into a BRICS energy agency. The agency will drive increased collaboration, enhanced research and innovation in energy, the provision of skill development and capacity building, the tracking of energy trends, and collaboration with international organisations.


Today African youths make up about 60% of the continent’s population, and by 2030 they are expected to make up 42% of the world’s youth population. Sixty-five percent of the continent’s population is under the age of 25. Yet Africa’s largest demographic remains one of the most underrepresented in decision-making roles in governance. For leadership to thrive and be responsive in a democracy, the inclusion of our youth is non-negotiable.


It is for this reason that during our chairship we have prioritised representation and participation of young people in the BRICS structures by ensuring that youth from the SA Youth Council and the National Youth Development Agency addressed the BRICS leaders at the summit to share their perspectives.


Furthermore, one of the critical outcomes of the summit was the endorsement of the establishment of the BRICS Youth Council, a structure that aims to formalise youth participation across all three pillars. This builds on the success of the annual BRICS youth summit, which reports to the ministers of youth.


Our youth must be sensitised to the opportunities the AfCFTA offers, and we must fortify youth networks and business support organisations, while boosting investments in education and skills development. African governments need to improve access to finance for young entrepreneurs so that we can grow and develop the small, medium and micro enterprises’ sector. Increased capital investment towards youth development programmes can be used to create platforms to identify possible market linkages between young people and potential investors in the form of internships and jobs.


The AfCFTA promises to be a game-changer for the continent’s economic and employment creation prospects, but its success and legacy will depend on across-the-board participation by the continent’s youth. Manufacturing stands to benefit the most under the AfCFTA, creating up to 16-million new jobs, according to the Brookings Institution. Young Africans will benefit as growth in this sector will help bridge the youth unemployment gap.


SA is participating in the work on the finalisation of the protocol on women and youth in trade, aimed at integrating these demographics into the African market and realising their financial and economic inclusion, in line with the spirit and the aspirations of the Agenda 2063.


Youth have a great deal to say and contribute in terms of finding solutions to the challenges they face, including lack of access to finance, barriers for small businesses, and tensions arising from intraregional and international migration. It is imperative that our youth participate in such discussions and drive the agenda for the future.


  • Monyela is spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

SA to unite the African voice for the development of common Agri-Parks

Johannesburg, 12 June, Press release; The BRICS Business Council (BBC) has unpacked the key priorities of its Agribusiness Working Group (AWG), as well as the opportunities that lie through the activation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), both for Intra-Africa and BRICS-Africa trade prospects. 


As Agriculture remains essential in boosting economic growth, inclusion, and job creation within BRICS countries, the AWG further accelerates this sector’s growth, benefiting each member country’s insights and services. Speaking in a panel discussion at the 8TH FARA Agribusiness and Science Week (AASW) which concluded on Thursday 8 June in Durban, the Chair of the South African Chapter of the BBC, Busi Mabuza urged African markets to speak in a united voice in establishing partnerships with BRIC nations towards the development of common Africa Agri-Parks. 


“With the enablement of the AfCFTA, and FARA, Africa is able to unlock opportunities through an integrated approach, where we are able to include not only intra-Africa trade but also foster BRIC – Africa commercial relationships,” said Mabuza. The event, which saw academia, policymakers and agribusiness leaders, seeks to sensitize industry players on the agro-industrial parks as an effective tool in the long-term economic structural transformation of the continent within the context of the AfCFTA.


 South Africa together with its global counterparts of the BBC, have chartered a programme that, with the imminent BRICS Summit in August, will allow the continent to find ways to unlock best practices on agricultural sustainable development as well as ways to improve fertilizer availability which are critical to the industry. These are two of the five priorities highlighted by Mabuza. 


The other three priorities include: 


  • Knowledge sharing on Agri-technology’, where the expertise of China and Brazil will be particularly useful. India also announced a R2billion investment towards its Agro-Parks in 2022, which provides the opportunity for Africa to learn mechanisms to attract similar financial injections, particularly concessional finance. 

  • Trade and Investment is a pivotal area as there remains a significant need for intra-BRICS trade, notwithstanding all the agricultural successes within BRICS markets. The AWG creates opportunities for business facilitation, sharing of information about export opportunities in each country and businessto-government communication to avert trade-related challenges. 

  • Agricultural finance focuses on the drive towards smart-climate-agriculture and the adoption of new farming methods (like the European Union’s Green Deal) will require innovative ways of financing. Knowledge sharing from experts within the BRICS formation will be key. South Africa as a global Chair, will share its experience through the programmes of the Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa as well as the National Department of Agriculture.

Adding to this, Mabuza cited that “access to information, opportunities, capacity, skills development and markets, are some of the critical elements that should accompany finance which we intend to incorporate into our approach, as advised by business partners in the industry.


”BRICS now constitutes nearly a third of global GDP and boasts four of the top ten largest Agri-produce exporters in the world, which also develop superior Agri-technology and two of them being the fastest growing economies in the world, presents monumental opportunities for Africa’s commercial growth to be leveraged. 


For all BRICS programme enquiries and media interview requests, contact: 


Zikona Captain at: or Whatsapp @ +27717506866

BRICS partnership is more than government-to-government relations by Amb Anil Sooklal, BRICS Sherpa

DIRCO’s Deputy Director-General responsible for Asia and the Middle East, Ambassador Anil Sooklal, speaks at a high-level seminar on Beijing’s global development strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative, in Pretoria. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo / ANA


Our BRICS partnership has deep roots in the formal government cooperation tracks across all three pillars of cooperation, political and security, financial and economic, as well as social/people-to-people cooperation.The partnership is more than government-to-government relations. It is inclusive women, youth, civil societies, media, ruling parties, parliaments, law societies, cultural organisations, sports federations, arts, theatre, film to name but a few.


Some of the global narratives about BRICS constantly aim to highlight our differences. It speaks of our different histories, cultures, religions, development paths and forms of governance as something negative.However, the uniqueness of BRICS is precisely the diversity and richness which welds us together as a powerful global force. It brings us together to work together in cooperation not only for our own benefit but for the global


In the words of President Nelson Mandela, our differences make the people of BRICS a global rainbow community. A shining light in providing leadership and charting a new era of harmony, peace, cooperation, development for the benefit of all.We live in a very fractured world and therefore new solutions are desperately needed for the challenges confronting humanity today.


We have seen the global pandemic erase almost all the gains we had made towards the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. The world is increasingly divided and the return to Cold War mentalities and the preservation of hegemonic tendencies has further exacerbated the situation, especially for the global South.


The key developmental challenges of poverty, underdevelopment, and inequality are increasing, but are being relegated to the margins by those who have the means to make a difference. Attention and resources are being shifted away from the Sustainable Development Goals, including from the most needy and vulnerable.


We cannot count on those who profess to be the leaders of the global community. BRICS as a powerful voice of the global South must leverage its combined resources, influence, and leadership, in partnership with other like-minded emerging market and developing countries, to provide the global leadership that is lacking in the world today. This is what is expected of BRICS.


This is the motivation for South Africa’s theme as Chair of BRICS in 2023:


BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.


Our theme emphasises the value of BRICS as a partnership of leading emerging markets and developing countries generating momentum towards global growth, sustainable development, and inclusion of the global South in the world system.


Governments cannot deliver on this alone. It requires a whole of community, whole of society approach. The importance of social and people-to-people cooperation was visible in the BRICS response to COVID-19. BRICS were at the forefront of a compassionate response to global North and the South.


Our response to climate change and the restructuring of our economies must also be compassionate. Our solutions to one problem should not leave others behind.


As Chair, we will explore how BRICS can lead with solutions for an equitable Just Transition. We can manage the risks associated with climate change while still improving the lives and futures of those people employed under the umbrella of old industries.


An equitable Just Transition will require new ideas and initiatives. BRICS is a platform for sharing and learning. Our cooperation has led to the establishment of the BRICS Academic Forum, BRICS Think Tank Council, Network of BRICS Universities and the virtual BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre.


More than 100 multilateral BRICS research projects have been funded under the BRICS Framework Programme. Our research partnership is based on joint ownership and shared responsibility, the real and open sharing of experience, expertise and resources; and a determination for BRICS research to advance the global good.


Our differences as well as our unique identity and strength become the anchor of our ever-expanding cooperation benefiting from our richness and diversity. BRICS brings people together to forge new friendships, deepen relations and mutual understanding between BRICS peoples in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, diversity, solidarity and mutual respect.


Under our Chairship we will continue the wide range of BRICS people-to-people platforms including the Youth Summit, Young Diplomats Forum, Parliamentary Forum, Civil BRICS as well as the Media Forum.


We will focus on the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Culture Agreement, promoting the development of BRICS cultural digitisation, and deepening cooperation in areas such as cultural arts, cultural heritage, and cultural industry.


We look forward to changing narratives in the BRICS Media Forum, empowering our media with BRICS International Journalism Training Program and the Joint Photography Exhibition.


President Ramaphosa has emphasised that the BRICS is centred on people-to-people contact. The pandemic weakened these links when all travel was banned. A return to people-to-people contact will help our travel and tourism sectors recover. This year we will further strengthen the BRICS Alliance for Green Tourism, to forge a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive tourism sector, and promote the high-quality development of BRICS culture and tourism cooperation.


We encourage sports ministries and federations of BRICS to strengthen communication and maintain coordination in international sports affairs. We look forward to hosting the BRICS Games in Durban later in the year.


We will be welcoming BRICS Leaders to South Africa for the 15th BRICS Summit in August 2023. Our Chairship is not isolated. It builds on the excellent work of the Chairs before us. We are seized with the important discussions on the guiding principles, standards, criteria, and procedures for BRICS membership expansion.


For South Africa, the immense interest in joining BRICS is recognition that we remain true to our foundational values of creating a more inclusive and equitable global community, strengthening multilateralism and being a catalyst for global economic recovery and growth, and a stable and peaceful world.


As a collective we will work together both to address challenges and explore opportunities for mutual benefit for all. We will work together to place BRICS at the forefront of shaping a new people-centred global society.


This is an address delivered on Thursday, March 30 at the joint opening ceremony by Professor Anil Sooklal, Ambassador-at-Large for Asia and BRICS at the BRICS Seminar on Governance and BRICS Forum on People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges.

President Cyril Ramaphosa: BRICS partnership has great value for South Africa

Dear Fellow South Africans,


Later this week, I will join the leaders of China, Brazil, Russia and India at the XIV BRICS Leaders’ Summit, which will be hosted virtually by Chinese President Xi Jinping.


The value of South Africa’s membership of BRICS has grown substantially since we joined this group of emerging economies 12 years ago. As we work to rebuild our country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is much to be gained from our participation in BRICS and the relationships we have established with other member countries.


At the outset, BRICS countries identified the strengthening of economic and financial ties as one of the key pillars of its cooperation. The countries have adopted the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership to increase access to each other’s markets, promote mutual trade and investment and create a business-friendly environment for investors in all BRICS countries. An important part of this strategy, particularly for South Africa, is to diversify trade so that more manufactured goods, rather than raw commodities, are traded.


Last year, over 17% of South Africa’s exports were destined for other BRICS countries, while over 29% of our total imports came from these countries. These countries are therefore significant trading partners, and the value of this trade is continuing to grow. Total South African trade with other BRICS countries reached R702 billion in 2021 up from R487 billion in 2017.


At a time when we are focused on improving the capacity and competitiveness of our economy, these trade linkages will prove vital to the growth of local industry. There is therefore a direct relationship between, on the one hand, our reforms in energy, telecommunications and transport, our investment in infrastructure and our efforts to reduce red tape, and, on the other hand, the work underway to increase exports to our BRICS partners. These reforms are also important for encouraging greater investment from BRICS countries into our economy.


One area with great potential is tourism, which has been badly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourists from other BRICS countries accounted for 65% of all arrivals in South Africa in 2018, and these markets will therefore be expected to make an important contribution to the recovery of this sector. It is therefore significant that visitors from India and China can now make use of our new eVisa programme to make it easier and less costly to visit our country.


As we mobilise financing from different sources to fund our ambitious infrastructure build programme, we expect the New Development Bank – also known as the BRICS Bank – to play an important role in providing financial and project preparation support for infrastructure and sustainable development projects. South Africa has already received $5.4 billion, currently worth around R86 billion, from the New Development Bank to improve service delivery in critical areas. The Bank also demonstrated its flexibility in rapidly approving $2 billion for each BRICS member under the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Programme to fund the fight against the pandemic and to support our economic recovery.


Alongside the engagements between governments, the BRICS Business Council and the BRICS Women’s Business Alliance are building ties between our respective business communities. They have been looking at the development of sectors such as agribusiness, aviation, financial services, energy, manufacturing and infrastructure, while also improving regulatory environments and developing skills.


The collaboration among BRICS members in the area of health and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in particular has placed South Africa in a better position to respond effectively to the current and future health emergencies. After several years of planning, the virtual BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre was launched in March. This centre will enable BRICS countries to engage in joint vaccine research, development and co-production. It will contribute to the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, strengthen health systems and help our countries to respond to future pandemics.


We see the BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre as a valuable development in our efforts to strengthen vaccine manufacturing capacity in South Africa and on the African continent more broadly. We will be calling on our BRICS partners to support the principle that vaccines destined for Africa should be produced on the continent.


Earlier this month, the BRICS Ministers of Agriculture, adopted a BRICS Strategy on Food Security Cooperation. This is especially important as concerns grow around food security in the wake of COVID-19, the conflict in Ukraine and the increasing effects of climate change. The strategy aims to maintain sustainable agriculture production, unhindered supply of seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural inputs, access to markets and stable functioning of food value chains.


More broadly, this week’s summit aims to usher in a new era for global development that is more inclusive, sustainable and fair. Through the reform of the multilateral system, including the United Nations, and by refocusing the attention and resources of the global community on the sustainable development agenda, the BRICS group can support a sustained and equitable global recovery.


The BRICS Leaders’ Summit is a valuable platform for South Africa to strengthen ties with its partner countries in support of our own growth and employment creation. More than that, the summit is our opportunity to contribute to a better world, in which all countries have a better chance to recover from this pandemic and to flourish.