South Africa

We are looking forward to partnering with BRICS colleagues as we implement the National Development Plan in our country, in the spirit of the BRICS partnership for development and progress. Jacob Zuma

President of RSA

Area: 1.22 million square kilometres

Population: 52.981 million

Capital: Pretoria (administrative), Cape Town (legislative), Bloemfontein (judiciary)

Head of state: President Jacob Zuma

State system: A parliamentary republic

Interesting facts:

  • South Africa is home to the Cradle of Humankind, the oldest known prehistoric burial site.
  • South Africa is third in the world for the purity of its municipal water.
  • South Africa has 11 official languages, with the majority of people fluent in at least three.

SA’s role as the ‘S’ in BRICS

There are many reasons why South Africa was invited to join the BRIC countries in 2010. To name but a few, South Africa is the world’s richest country in mineral reserves, it has the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa and it makes up a third of the region’s GDP. The country’s achievements in the fields of science, technology and innovation are also highly commendable, with e.g. a major stake in the Square Kilometre Array. Its inclusion in the African Union (AU), the Group of G77 (G77) and the Group of 20 (G20) also shows its valued influence on African and global matters, and the list goes on. As SA’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation explained, SA’s main aim as a BRICS member is threefold:


  • To drive national interests;
  • To encourage regional integration and related infrastructure programmes, and;
  • To collaborate with key influencers of the South on issues of global governance reforms.

As the ‘S’ in BRICS, South Africa is committed to achieving inclusive growth, sustainable development, a prosperous South Africa and a better Africa in a better world.

SA's Growth in BRICS

In 2014, its total trade with BRICS was R382-billion, from R268-billion in 2011. Africa had doubled its total trade with BRICS since 2007 to $340-billion (R4.2-trillion) in 2012, and this was projected to reach $500-billion in 2015.


increase in South Africa's total trade with BRICS.

What Value Does South Africa Add to BRICS?

  • South Africa’s comparative advantage within BRICS pertains to the country’s considerable non-energy in situ mineral wealth. In a recent report commissioned by the US-based Citigroup bank, South Africa was ranked as the world’s richest country in terms of its mineral reserves, worth an estimated US$2,5 trillion. South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum, chrome, vanadium and manganese, the third-largest gold-miner, and offers highly sophisticated mining-related professional services, contributing significantly to the BRICS resource pool.
  • South Africa is investing R300 billion (US$35,6 billion) into expanding and improving its railways, ports and fuel pipelines, as a catalyst to help unlock the world’s greatest mineral wealth. Africa will also continue to be buoyed by the exploding global demand for oil, metals, minerals, food and other natural resources. Likewise, the African continent, which is arguably one of the world’s largest unexplored resource basins, has an abundance of riches, including 10% of the world’s oil reserves, 40% of its gold ore and 95% of platinum.
  • The demand from BRICS countries for these commodities has been a critical source to support growth on the continent.
  • South Africa’s financial market development and sophistication, also as a source of exceptionally sophisticated professional services and financial expertise, is globally recognised. The World Economic Forum’s 2011/12 Global Competitiveness Index displayed a high level of confidence in South Africa’s financial market development, ranking the country in fourth place globally on this measure.
  • The regulation of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange was ranked number one in the world, as was the strength of South Africa’s auditing and reporting standards. Additionally, South Africa is ranked second for both the soundness of banks and the efficacy of corporate boards.
  • South Africa’s excellence in science, technology and innovation is also recognised, e.g. it being awarded the majority stake in hosting the Square Kilometre Array. BRICS countries supported South Africa in obtaining the majority stake.
  • South Africa’s export structure to BRICS member countries shows significant diversification and the negative trade balance has also narrowed over the last four years, i.e. from R57 billion in 2008 to R22,8 billion in 2011. South Africa’s export trade with the BRIC partners grew from 6,2% of the total in 2005 to 16,8% in 2011, whereas its imports from the BRIC countries represented 13,6% of total imports in 2005 and 20% in 2011. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, has emphasised that in 2011 alone, trade between South Africa and BRICS countries grew by 29%, which is considerable.
  • South Africa enjoys recognition as a dedicated and committed global and regional player. South Africa’s constructive role in global governance structures as well as its position within organisations of the South, notably the African Union (AU), the Group of G77 (G77) and China and NAM is appreciated by BRICS and other like-minded partners. South Africa is also the only African country represented in the Group of 20 (G20), which has become an important institution on the reform of the financial and economic global governance architecture.
  • South Africa has always been at the forefront of promoting more inclusive formations and more equitable participation of notably emerging markets and developing economies in the world system and its decision-making structures. This belief stems from our core conviction that Africa has to be repositioned in the global system to assume its rightful place. South Africa, together with other African countries, initiated the dialogue with the Group of 8 (G8) in 2000, which led to the subsequent endorsement of the AU’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) by the international community at large. At the last BRICS Summit, President Zuma once again strongly articulated this view, also in light of the issue of the World Bank Presidency, where Africa had put forward an exceptionally merit-based candidate.
  • South Africa’s own unique historic political transformation process to become a constitutional democracy is perceived as a unique contribution to the world. The country has facilitated similar processes for peace elsewhere in the world.

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