Greater African presence at summit that kicks off Wednesday

South Africa has injected an atmosphere of greater vibrancy by roping in the entire African continent to the fifth top-level gathering of the world’s five major emerging powers that starts here on Wednesday,

The BRICS Summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), with about 12 African leaders and all the continent’s eight regional economic communities attending as interested parties, will announce the setting of an exclusive bank for themselves and the developing world.  BRICS officials say the bank will start functioning in two years after details such as capitalization, location and holding percentages are worked out. The BRICS grouping, committed to multi-polarity and equity in managing world affairs, will also take forward the consensus it has achieved over the past two years in commenting on global political developments such as Syria and Iran and seeking a better deal from Bretton Woods institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their combined opinion on political issues, that began with the fourth summit in China and continued in Delhi last year, has reflected those of the developing world — and has not been in complete consonance with the US-Europe alliance’s scheme of things.

The Sherpas, or high officials nominated by the heads of government, were busy achieving a consensus on the political issues and how the announcement of a bank will be handled, till 2 a.m. on Sunday. They eventually finalised the Durban Declaration (eThekwini Declaration, the African name for Durban) just about the time the Prime Minister’s plane landed here this evening.

It emerges that the economic aspects will be given a firm push with the announcement of a stand-alone BRICS business council and two agreements that could serve as a precursor to the bank, pushed hard by China but looked at with reservations by the rest for fear that Beijing, having emerged as a bigger lender last year than the World Bank, would dominate the bank completely.

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