By: Kester Kenn Klomegah in Moscow
Somalilandsun – As a further step to consolidate the group’s footprint, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered to sign a memorandum on cooperation with BRICS countries (namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in the sphere of science, technologies and innovations, the official website of the Russian government reported in March.
The memorandum aims at “forming a strategic system for cooperation in the sphere of science, technologies and innovations between countries – members of BRICS.” The memorandum will be signed by Russia’s Ministry of Education and Science on behalf of the Russian government.
BRICS experts, researchers and analysts have noted that considering the progress that has been made since its inception, it is significant for the leaders to move more rapidly in prioritizing the potential areas of economic influence and there are no doubts this will be done in the nearest future, already starting with the creation of the National Development Bank.
The deal to establish the bank was signed last year by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Under the July 2014 framework deal, the founding countries will create a $100-billion reserve currency pool to ensure the bank’s financial stability. The bank could help shore up funds for many different infrastructure projects.
“Without doubts, the BRICS group members, five major developing economies, have huge scientific and technological potentials for bolstering cooperation and can reach great height in their collective achievements, this could mean forming an unseparable consolidated alliance,” Edward Bely, Candidate of Sciences and Scientific Secretary at the Institute of Latin American Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Buziness Africa in an interview in June.
The Executive Director of the Russian National Committee for BRICS Research Georgy Toloraya told TASS News Agency in an interview on the occasion of the group’s Civic Forum opening on June 29 that “there are several important cooperation spheres, for example, combating cyberterrorism, cyber threats, just terrorism, responding to new threats and challenges, including infectious and non-communicable diseases, drug trafficking and even regional conflicts, participation of BRICS in their settlement, various aspects of humanitarian and natural disasters,” he said. “This subject is becoming increasingly important.”
Similarly, Modern Diplomacy Senior Editor and also the Founder of Internacionalista based São Paulo, Patricia Galves Derolle, thinks that Brazil is very much interested in cooperating in the spheres of of science, technologies and innovations as proposed by Russia. Brazil cooperates without asking for something in return, it cooperates to help the countries develop. However, cooperating in fields such as innovation and technology will bring appreciable results in the long-run.
“I think all of the countries, except China, use the group for their own national interests, but clearly Russia and Brazil believe more in the BRICS than any other member country,” Derolle, an author of many policy articles including – What Does It Mean To Be An Emerging Power, – wrote in an email comment to Buziness Africa from Brazil.
Brazil is the largest country in size and population in comparison to other Latin American countries, and it is the seventh largest economy in the world by nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Since the mid 2000’s, Brazil has become a more attractive global player: it has diversified its economy and its partnerships, and launched the Growth Acceleration Plan (2007) in order to increase investment in infrastructure and provide tax incentives for economic growth.
Long before the creation of BRICS, Russia and India (R&I) have been very close strategic partners and now also in the BRICS group. In the objective views of the Indian Ambassador to the Russian Federation, Pundi Srinivasan Raghavan, the BRICS group has much potential to cooperate in many areas, including education, science, technology and many other areas and Delhi hopes that that the period of Russia’s presidency in BRICS will allow for boosting and consolidating cooperation among the members.
“There is considerable potential for strengthening intra-BRICS cooperation in areas like online education, affordable healthcare platforms, virtual BRICS University, small and medium enterprises, tourism, youth exchanges and science and technology. We hope to see forward movement in these areas in BRICS 2015. Therefore, we can say BRICS today plays an important role in global politics and economics.” Raghavan said in an interview with Interfax.
Ahead of the Ufa summit in July, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted an article on its official website written by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. “Russia and its partners have a long-term goal stipulated in the group’s Durban declaration, and it is to transform BRICS into a full-fledged mechanism of strategic and current inter-action on vital issues of world politics and economy,” Ryabkov wrote in his policy article.
As Russia is fulfilling the functions of BRICS chairman, it is guided first and foremost by this objective. The Russia plans to hand over about forty new proposals on investment cooperation ( that will include a promulgated cooperation to the mining of mineral resources, power engineering, and telecommunications) in the form of a roadmap to the partners.
In an official message to the participants and guests of the first Civic Forum of BRICS held in June, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out the role of people’s diplomacy in ensuring mutual understanding between the countries. The message said in part: “Your forum opens a new dimension in the BRICS activity by involving the representatives of various non-governmental organizations and civic circles of the five countries in the joint work.”
Putin stresses further that the efficient solution to many issues of modern international relations is impossible without an active mobilization of the civil society. The agenda of the forum is in line with the priorities of the Russian presidency in BRICS and fully reflects the goal towards strengthening mutually beneficial multilateral cooperation in the political, economic and humanitarian spheres.
In her academic policy research paper under the title “South Africa beyond BRICS” released in April, Memory Dube, is a Senior Researcher with SAIIA’s Economic Diplomacy Programme, argues that “the BRICS alliance seems to have yielded limited benefits for South Africa in terms of interest articulation in global economic governance beyond the rhetoric of reform and democratisation of global economic governance institutions.”
While elevating South Africa’s voice in global economic governance debates, it has been difficult to identify tangible economic benefits flowing from South Africa’s membership of BRICS outside of the normal bilateral economic engagement that South Africa has with individual BRICS members, which pre-date its BRICS membership, and, of course, the New Development Bank whose benefits can only be spoken of in potential terms as it is yet to be operational, she noted.
It is also necessary to consider whether issues are country-specific, of regional priority or dominating the global economic agenda. In addition, it is important to note that issues are multi-dimensional covering the financial, trade and investment sectors, reform of global institutions, and south-south development cooperation, Dube noted and further pointed out that “it is becoming increasingly apparent that South Africa needs to explore alternative groupings in global economic governance fora which are aligned meaningfully with its domestic and strategic interests.”
The SAIIA, is a non-governmental research institute, focuses on South Africa’s and Africa’s international relations. It provides analysis, promotes dialogue and contributes to African policy making in a dynamic global context.
The BRICS countries collectively represent about 26% of the world’s geographic area and are home to 42% of the world’s population. In 2013, the share of the BRICS countries reached 16.1% in global trade, 10.8% in military spending and 40/2% in production of non-renewable energy resources. The BRICS consumer market is the largest in the world and is growing by $500 billion a year. The next BRICS summit will take place in Ufa, the capital of Russia’s Volga republic Bashkiria, on July 8-10, 2015.
The author Kester Kenn Klomegah is the IPS Moscow correspondent. He covers politics, human rights issues, foreign policy and ethnic minority problems. His research interests include Russian area studies and Russian culture. Kester has worked for several years with the Moscow Times. He has studied social philosophy and religion and spent a year at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. He is co-author of ‘AIDS/HIV and Men: Taking Risk or Taking Responsibility’ published by the London-based Panos Institute. In 2004, he was awarded the Golden Word Prize for excellence in journalism by the Russian Media Union, a non-governmental media organisation in Moscow.