By Pascal Fletcher, Reuters
DURBAN, South Africa, March 26 (Reuters) – “BRICS, Don’t Carve Africa” reads a banner in a church hall in downtown Durban where civil society activists have gathered to cast a critical eye at a summit of five global emerging powers.
The slogan evokes the 19th Century conference in Berlin where the predominant European colonial states carved up the African continent in a scramble historians see as epitomising the brash exploitative capitalism of the time.
Decades after Africans threw off the colonial yoke, it is the turn of the blossoming BRICS group of Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa to find their motives coming under scrutiny as they proclaim an altruistic-sounding “partnership for development, integration and industrialization” with Africa.
Led by that giant of the emerging powers, China, the BRICS are now Africa’s largest trading partners and its biggest new group of investors. BRICS-Africa trade is seen eclipsing $500 billion by 2015, with China taking the lion’s share of 60 percent of this, according to Standard Bank.
BRICS leaders persist in presenting their group – which represents more than 40 percent of the world’s population and one fifth of global gross domestic product – in the warm and fuzzy framework of benevolent South-South cooperation, an essential counterweight to the ‘old’ West and a better partner for the poor masses of the developing world. Continue reading