In recent years, economic self-empowerment and self-sufficiency by way of global cooperation mechanisms have shaped the foreign policy and economic strategy of many nations; particularly that of developing nations. As African countries strive for sustained development and inclusive growth, the possibility of joining the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) promises great potential. In light of the growing chatter about the prospects of BRICS that has saturated global affairs, it is of utmost importance to ask “What is the cost-benefit analysis for African countries in joining BRICS?” This piece discusses the broader implications of this organization, with a broad discussion on the plausible outlook of the United States. and the broader ‘West’ in this seeming move.

Embracing New Horizons: Benefits of Joining BRICS

Enhanced economic cooperation:BRICS offers African countries the potential for increased economic cooperation through fostering cross-border trade, investment, and technology transfer. This partnership can foster sustainable industrial development, promote job creation, and foster innovation, ultimately contributing to Africa’s long-term economic growth.

Infrastructure development prospects: BRICS nations possess tremendous expertise and resources in infrastructure development. By joining BRICS, African countries can tap into this bank of knowledge and experience, which is critical for addressing a significant infrastructure deficit. Access to funding from the New Development Bank presents an exciting opportunity to accelerate infrastructure projects continent-wide.

Diversifying partnerships & reducing dependence: Historically, African countries have relied heavily on Western powers for aid, investment, and trade. By joining BRICS, they can diversify their partnerships and reduce over-reliance on a particular geopolitical bloc. This diversification not only mitigates economic risks but also strengthens Africa’s bargaining power.

Weighing the Risks of BRICS

Perceived dependence on non-western powers: One potential cost is the perception that African countries may become over-reliant on non-Western powers by aligning with BRICS.

Critics argue that such dependence might compromise the African voice and hinder progress in areas such as human rights and democracy. However, it is essential to recognize the agency and autonomy of African nations in forging their own path toward development.

A shift in trade patterns: Joining BRICS could lead to a redirection of trade patterns towards these emerging markets. While this may disrupt long-established Western trade relationships, it also opens new opportunities for African nations to diversify their markets, expand trade volumes, and reduce their reliance on single trade partners.

The potential risk of isolation: Some detractors suggest that joining BRICS might isolate African countries from Western institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. However, the formation of alternative financing mechanisms within BRICS, such as the New Development Bank, can address these concerns and provide African countries with access to much-needed capital for infrastructure and socio-economic development.

Pragmatic Concerns: Response of the US and the West

The United States and some Western powers have expressed concerns over African countries aligning with BRICS. This response can be seen as a manifestation of the historical geopolitical competition between the traditional Western powers and emerging economies. The US fears the dilution of its influence in Africa, given BRICS’ growing prominence. Consequently, they may adopt assertive measures to safeguard their interests, including reinforcing partnerships, revising aid policies, or promoting alternative economic alliances.

African countries joining BRICS offer immense potential for accelerated economic growth and sustainable development. The benefits of enhanced economic cooperation, infrastructure development, and diversified partnerships far outweigh the perceived costs. In the face of potential resistance from the US and Western powers, African nations must emphasize their sovereignty, maintain an assertive stance, and actively engage with the BRICS community to ensure shared prosperity. By strategically forging new alliances, Africa can unlock its true potential on the global stage.