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Jim O’Neill changes stand on SA in BRICS
April 12, 2013, 9:25 am


Jim O’Neill coined the BRIC acronym in 2001 [PPIO]

Moving away from his earlier criticism of South Africa’s inclusion in BRICS, former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill has said that South Africa has a important role to play within the BRICS grouping, both as a gateway to the continent and as a catalyst for African integration.

He was speaking at the tenth annual conference of the African Venture Capital Association in Cape Town this week.

O’Neill coined the BRIC acronym in 2001.

The economist, who had earlier cast doubts about the BRICS membership of South Africa due to the size of its economy, changed his stand by saying, South Africa “has a big role to play [within the grouping] and probably quite a responsibility in being some kind of genuine gateway to helping the rest of Africa become more successful”.

On the recent announcement at the Durban Summit of the establishment of the BRICS Bank, O’Neill said this was “probably the first real sign that this grouping has managed to do something together”.

If Africa could improve its technology, education and governance standards, as well as strengthen its trade and infrastructure links, “then my goodness me, it is not only the next decade [that is going to be Africa’s], it is going to be the next three or four,” O’Neill said.

In his recent article entitled South Africa’s BRICS Score: Not All Doom and Gloom, he concluded: “South Africa could do more than justify its presence (in BRICS) if it helped Africa to fulfil its remarkable potential”.

He further said, “South Africa scored well for the cost of setting up business and for most of macroeconomic stability variables and also does reasonably well in some areas of governance and schooling.”

“If South Africa could also help to lead the rest of the continent to reach its own standards where these are high, Africa would be on an accelerated path to greater economic might. By exploring cross-border expansion in trade and infrastructure, as well as improvements in domestic productivity, South Africa will have more than justified its role as a member of BRICS.”

Reacting to O’ Neill’s statements, South Africa’s minister of international relations and cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in an exclusive article for The BRICS Post had said, “I can assure Mr O’Neill that the objective to fulfil Africa’s remarkable potential is at the forefront of our political and economic diplomacy.”

With inputs from Agencies