BRICS a bulwark against backwardness – Siyabonga Gama

Transnet GCE, Siyabonga Gama. Source: WEF

BRICS countries should fortify themselves against “the virulent ghosts of nationalism, xenophobia and hatred that continue to haunt us”, Transnet GCE Siyabonga Gama told delegates attending the launch of the organisations’ African Infrastructure Programme.

Referring to the $34bn in tariffs that the US implemented against China last Friday, prompting the Asian superpower to retaliate by instituting similar tariffs against America, Gama said “it’s vitally important that Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa” – the countries making up BRICS – “remain sentient to the enormous potential the association has.”

Gama reminded delegates that BRICS “represents over 3.6 billion people, or about 41% of the world population”, and that “the five nations have a combined GDP of $16.6 trillion”.

In addition to the $4 trillion that BRICS has in combined foreign reserves, its collective GDP is “equivalent to approximately 22% of the gross world product”.

Speaking at Transnet’s Esselen Park premises, Gama remarked that the location used to be a farm called Witfontein whose history was reflected in the neo-classical stonework of Italian prisoners sent there during the 2nd World War.

With nationalism, xenophobia and tariff penalties in mind, he lamented that “it’s bitterly ironic that, as a global community of nations, we are revisiting these ideas with a vengeance, much to the detriment of our societies.”

Gama furthermore reminded delegates that it was imperative for BRICS to be “a bulwark against those forces that wish to drive us backwards”.

Looking to the future, he also reflected on research done by BRICS about the 4th industrial revolution, adding that it entailed striving for “technological advancement in enabling transport networks, skills development, innovations to enhance access to information and infrastructure development”.

If digitisation was embraced, it could be the propelling force that drove economic growth in BRICS countries, Gama said.


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