|South Africa wants BRICS to promote peace in Africa|
CAPE TOWN, March 12 (Xinhua) -- BRICS countries can play a role in promoting peace and stability as well as economic development on the African continent, a senior South African official has said.
"Our own future is tied to the economic development of Africa as a whole and to the establishment of stability and peace throughout the continent," Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said in remarks published on Tuesday by the South African Government and Information System (GCIS).
"We believe that the other BRICS countries can play an important role in achieving these goals and that they (and the rest of the world), in turn, will benefit from the process," the minister said.
He made the remarks at the ongoing BRICS academic forum in Durban, where the BRICS 5th summit will be held on March 26 and March 27.
BRICS is an acronym of the world's emerging economic powers, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
BRICS countries "have given African nations the ability to start to escape the clutches of neo-colonial dependence on foreign aid, and the policies and 'advice' of Western-controlled finance institutions," Nzimande said.
He said although South Africa was the most developed country on the continent, its future wellbeing was tied to that of the African continent. South Africa has made it clear that its position going into the summit is to align BRICS member countries' interests in supporting the integration agenda in Africa, and not just focusing on access to the country's resources. Nzimande said integration of African economies is at an early stage. Although communications infrastructure was improving, it still has a long way to go.
He said it was not possible to travel between many neighbouring countries by train and railway infrastructure was mainly geared to getting raw materials to the coast for export but not for moving goods and people around or within the continent.
"Roads, especially major arterial roads, are in need of serious upgrading. Despite a large expansion of air travel routes in Africa, it is still often easier to fly from one African country to another via Europe rather than directly. Industry, in general, is still weak – especially outside of the raw material, extractive industries," he explained.
Nzimande also called on BRICS countries to cooperate in academic fields. "One of the most important elements of BRICS cooperation should be in the sphere of knowledge production and academic cooperation. To achieve our goals- both in Africa and the world- we need constantly to strengthen our scientific and technical knowledge in all spheres, to deepen our understanding of our societies and those of the rest of the world," he said.