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Strong support sought from BRICS-led bank

By Ndumiso Mlilo | China Daily | Updated: 2018-03-16 09:00

Some African regional and continental bodies believe the BRICS-led New Development Bank has the potential to help the continent address its challenges.

This view was expressed during recent discussions in Johannesburg, South Africa, between the NDB, civil representatives and other banks and stakeholders.

The NDB was established by BRICS members Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to help them and other emerging economies address developmental challenges. Its headquarters opened in Shanghai in 2016 and the NDB Africa Regional Center, or ARC, was opened in Johannesburg last year.

Oxfam South Africa Executive Director Siphokazi Mthathi says the opening of the ARC is an opportunity to help fund Africa's infrastructure development, as well as a chance for BRICS to ensure that development financing is sensitive to the needs of the poor, the marginalized and women.

"Oxfam South Africa believes that the bank needs to establish a structural framework for engagement with civil society organizations that will promote the transparent and accountable manner in which projects are chosen, implemented and monitored. As part of this, the bank needs to consider environmental and social safeguards that take into account community needs. A lot is expected from us in the South and we dare not fail," says Mthathi.

Tumi Moleke, the ARC's acting manager, says BRICS has agreed to add members. Moleke did not say when the new members will be added. But he says the organization is not in a hurry to add members but is prioritizing fulfilling its mandate to see that projects are funded. The NDB has so far approved seven projects worth $1.5 billion.

Moleke says: "BRICS is committed to the African Agenda 2063. The ARC will work to support Africa. It will assist in receiving projects, then their preparation and attracting resources for them."

Moleke says the bank is willing to engage civil society and hear concerns, which will be brought to the attention of the NDB board of directors.

Bob Kalanzi, capacity development officer at the office of the CEO of the New Partnership for Africa's Development, the implementing agency of the African Union, welcomes the NDB. He says the bank will assist in the implementation of Agenda 2063 and addressing priority areas. Kalanzi says that since South Africa is a member of the AU, it should leverage on its BRICS membership to address Africa's challenges. He says the NDB has the potential to drive industrialization in Africa and increase development.

"The NDB presents a wonderful opportunity coming from the South as a complementary funding model to the traditional North," Kalanzi says. "We hope that terms and conditions will be relaxed. This would support financial, technical transfer to drive participation in infrastructure projects to improve intra-Africa trade and the continent's contribution to global trade."

Thembi Langa, senior program officer at the finance and investment unit for the Southern African Development Community, says the NDB presents opportunities for development in the region and on the continent. She says that, with South Africa being a BRICS member, the region will benefit from projects funded by the NDB that overlap in other countries. She says they could work with NDB in equity participation and cofinancing.

"We see the NDB not a threat to us but as a partner in development. The NDB will enhance infrastructural projects," says Langa. "The banks address the development aspect which we stand for to achieve our overarching goals of poverty alleviation in the region."

Sibulele Poswayo of the Inequality Movement says the NDB should address issues that affect the needs of women. She says it should also address inequality by promoting infrastructure projects that promote economic inclusivity.

Bongani Msimanga, environmental analyst at the Development Bank of Southern Africa, says the bank will meet with the NDB to see how they can work together. Msimanga says there are many projects in Africa that require funding that his bank cannot afford on its own. He says the NDB will complement his bank's work.

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