South African President calls for fundamental reforms

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Tuesday called for fundamental reforms in global financial institutions at the opening of the 15th BRICS summit held in Johannesburg.

Ramaphosa said the BRICS New Development Bank is leading the way as an alternative by offering funds for developing nations without conditions.

BRICS is a bloc of emerging economies that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It currently makes up a quarter of the global economy, accounting for a fifth of global trade, and is home to more than 40% of the world’s population.

This is BRICS’ first in-person gathering in four years after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ramaphosa said BRICS countries have received four times more investment as a result of their new bank compared to 20 years ago.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, China’s President Xi Jinping, and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are attending the summit in person in Johannesburg.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is facing an international arrest warrant over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, is not attending the meeting in person. He delivered his address via video link.

The Russian leader decried sanctions imposed on his country, saying it is damaging to the global economy. He said BRICS is an important group whose countries exceed the G7 countries in terms of economic activity.

He said the 3-day summit will also discuss how to use national currencies instead of the US dollar.

Putin said the BRICS bloc cooperates on the principles of equality, partnership support, and respect for each other’s interests.

Ramaphosa said BRICS exists not just to strengthen government-to-government relations but to also deepen people-to-people relations in various aspects, including trade, tourism, and education.

The South African leader told the summit that Africa is a continent of great opportunity, rich in critical minerals, and a skilled young urban population which positions the continent as the next frontier of growth.

He said Africa wants its resources processed on the continent and exported as finished products with value addition.

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