XIAMEN — China is a very important anchor of BRICS and is critical to its future development, chairman of South Africa BRICS Business Council has told Xinhua here on the sidelines of the ongoing BRICS summit.

Despite the sluggish economic situation in certain member countries, “all the ingredients are there for us to be successful,” said Iqbal Surve on Sunday, as leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are gathering here for the bloc’s 9th summit.

Having visited China 15 times since 2007, Surve said he is amazed every time he comes back by how different parts of the country have developed. “Certainly China is leading the way,” he said.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping called on BRICS to expand the coverage of its cooperation at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum, Surve said he personally welcomed the initiative. “That can only benefit the people of those countries.”

During the Xiamen summit, China will hold the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries, where leaders of Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan and Thailand will join the BRICS leaders to discuss global development cooperation and South-South cooperation.

Surve thinks the idea of BRICS Plus fits the bloc’s aim to help people overcome challenges, lift people out of poverty and support people in meeting their aspirations.

The South African businessman also lauded BRICS’ rapid development in the past decade. “I’m actually astounded by the speed at which we’ve been able to achieve outcomes. I think it’s unprecedented,” he said, citing the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB) as an example.

The NDB, which was opened in Shanghai in 2015, approved loans totaling 1.55 billion U.S. dollars last year to seven programs on sustainable development and is expected to offer loans of 2.5 billion U.S. dollars this year. The bank launched its Africa Regional Center last month.

As the chairman of Sekunjalo Investment Holdings, Surve also expressed the hope that when making investment decisions, the NDB will really take into account the fact that the global economy has been digitalized.

“Investment has to take place in digitalization. It has to take place in technology and we can no longer think that investing in infrastructure is sufficient,” he said.

Speaking about the development of African economies, Surve said it’s important to promote the market integration of African economies in areas such as technology transfers, technology investments, green economy, sustainable development, and so on.

“There is great hope that Africa could emerge in the next two decades with significant growth,” he said, highlighting the importance of BRICS and BRICS Plus in the process.

Asked about the protectionism calls in the world, Surve said that BRICS has played a positive role in preventing countries from going back to protectionist policies.

“So what BRICS has basically done is it has said to the world that the South and the East together are going to continue to integrate the flows of the economy, the people, the technology, etc. and we have a duty to do that,” he said.

Looking ahead, Surve said it is very clear that the future is very bright for the BRICS. “BRICS is really going to shock people in terms of what it is able to achieve,” he said. – Xinhua