January 4th, 2011
02:31 AM GMT
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(CNN) – First Indonesia, now South Africa making the argument that it’s an emerging economy worthy of the BRIC acronym.

South Africa’s leader has reportedly been invited to the next BRIC summit, coming up in April, in Beijing.  China is apparently in favor, and Russia too, with both countries touting how politically significant such a decision would be.

The South Africa boosters say it’s strategically important, and with Russia’s economy struggling in the first part of 2010, very relevant.

But geopolitics aside, what about the economics?  Some analysts say, look at the numbers, and forget about messing with the popular acronym.

South Africa and Russia have equity markets of comparable size at $718 billion. But South Africa’s economy is only about a quarter the size of Russia’s. Its population size, as you’ll see in my video blog posted here, is a mere fraction of the larger members.

According to David Spegel who analyzes emerging markets for ING, Russia is important because it is the only major energy exporter among the BRICS, with 68% of exports being fuels and metals.   South Africa does not fill that need among the bloc.

And watch out in 2011. Russia may have a banner year if, as some analysts predict, that sleeping giant has just woken up.

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. afropersimist

    the answer is no, Africa is just a doomed continent

    January 4, 2011 at 6:13 am |
  2. Griff

    Why has South Africa been invited to join BRIC/S ?

    Quote -- " South Africa, with more than $2.5 trillion in mineral reserves, is the world’s richest nation by “commodity wealth” followed by Russia and Australia, according to Citigroup Inc."

    Say no more

    January 4, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  3. Lucas

    I don't know why Russia is shown as 1 tri for GDP, while

    while the IMF is saying Russia GDP is more than 2 tri.

    Whose is ING and why is it so different?

    January 4, 2011 at 6:58 am |
  4. Dazz

    @afropersimist: you have the arrogance to comment yet you cannot even spell. Idiot!

    January 4, 2011 at 7:20 am |
  5. Robert G

    Next year Afghanistan should join the BRIC(S) club:
    It has a trillion in mineral reserves in it's surface

    January 4, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  6. Dave R

    Having worked in all countries except India I find it hard to believe that South Africa is a contender at all.

    It is still one of the most violent countries in the world that is not at war (and getting worse).

    Having natural resources is one thing. Having the skills and infrastructure to extract and process the resources is another issue entirely.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  7. Bijou

    damn right they should...if they wanna n can. Afropesimist,which part of Africa are you on for you to testify its doom? fyi, we are checking out South Africa, not Africa as a continent.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  8. jd

    HA!!!! why bother trying to keep yourselves informed by reading CNN when your ignorance shines like the sun. Yes, South Africa has crime but its on the decrease(generally speaking). and yes there is plenty of infrastructure there. they don't spend their money on wars. Not just anyone can host a world cup to say the least. Anyways i dont blame the yanks for being a bit upset that they're slowly losing their grip on the entire world.

    January 4, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  9. Bruce

    Although not comparable in terms of population or GDP, one cannot underestimate South Africa's importance for a continent of 1billion people and growing fast. SA accounts for over 25% of Africa's GDP, has one of the 10 largest equity markets in the world and is still the world's top producer for many crucial commodities (gold, copper, uranium, platinum, manganese vanadium). In terms of skills and infrastructure to extract these resources the production numbers tell the story. Also, let's not forget the world's foremost expert and producer of oil from coal and natural gas (an increasingly important future technology as the scarcity of crude oil increases). All this makes it a natural fit with the resource hungry Chinese!

    Apart from that, politically South Africa is a major power both in Africa and the Southern Hemisphere, as well having held a UN Security Council seat for past few years. Strategically, South Africa straddles the divide between east and west, as an essentially Western-liberal country in terms of politics and values with a well-balanced and sophisticated emerging market economy.

    January 4, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  10. jd

    but yes, we still all ride giraffes to work and walk around with nothing but underwear made from reeds.

    January 4, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  11. Martin M

    @afropersimist from a South African: Dazz got it spot on, "you are a true idiot"

    January 4, 2011 at 9:54 am |
  12. Arthur uzo

    when it has to do with Africa the yard stick used in measuring outcome is changed. So also is the finished line. Those that talk about crime, What of london, Mosuco, New york and Rio in Brazil, are the crime there different from south africa. And how is indonsia or india ahead of south africa.
    Can we basis our judgement or commonsense, not historic assumed way of reasoning.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  13. Arthur uzo

    when it has to do with Africa the yard stick used in measuring outcome is changed. So also is the finished line. Those that talk about crime, What of london, Mosuco, New york and Rio in Brazil, are the crime there different from south africa. And how is indonsia or india ahead of south africa.
    Can we basis our judgement on commonsense, and not on the premitive historic assumed way of reasoning.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  14. Ferhat

    Turkey deserves more to be in BRIC than any other country. Just simply looking over numbers in economy enough for the argument.
    Also in Eurasia region Turkey has an important actor in any area.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  15. Mark K

    Many of the comments here are quite daft. Some regions in South Africa are as wealthy and educated as found in Europe or America, while others resemble those in the poorest parts of Africa. Developing the ability to add to the knowledge base of the society and effectively using this knowledge to stimulate economic growth is what being an emerging economy is all about. The real challenge for South Africa is to integrate the poorest regions with the richer ones and give them the opportunity to become part of the emerging market.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:51 am |













    January 4, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  17. josh

    It's obviously an intelligent move, for all parties involved, because South Africa is really the door to the entire continent. That means now that almost all of Asia (russia + china + india), almost all of South America (brazil/mercosur/unasur), and now all of Africa will be in their own club, against USA. That means essentially all of the natural resources/minerals of the world will be in the hands of alliances that are against USA/EU.
    And @ "proud african", South Korea is not just manipulated by North Korea, they're also being manipulated by USA, while North Korea is being manipulated by China. The entire Korean peninsula is being manipulated.

    January 4, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  18. Nico

    As far as technology is concerned South Africa is more advanced that any other African country and also some European and South American countries.

    South Africa was the first country in many fields like the first heart transplant and also the first and only country to voluntarily dismantled it's entire neuclear weapons program – to name only two.

    Our inftastructure and manufacturing and assembly capability is second to none in Africa – think of Mercedes, BMW, Nissan, etc., etc. Many parts of the motor vehicle industry is also manufactured here.

    We export vehciles to many countries – the USA, Australia, Europe – to name but a few.

    South Africa is also exporting advanced military hardware and technoloy to many countries in the world.

    The JSE is amongt the first 16 stock exchanges in the world.

    According to African Business magazine, 15 out of the top 16 companies on the continent are South African, as are 54 out of the top 90. And the companies in the are flexing their muscles and finding new markets in Africa and across the world. the fact that South Africa's GDP, at an estimated $239bn (€168bn), is nearly 40 times that of the average African country makes it no surprise that South Africa has become one of the biggest investors on the continent.

    So, to all the disbelievers in our capabilities don't under estimate this country.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  19. Harry

    It is amazing at the ignorance and stupidity of people who use media to judge SA. Have you been to thi sbeautiful country that is rising by the day. Did you not notice that SA has the world's best example of REAL democracy? What to speak of economic strength whilst the the worlds big names sank with the recession – any idea?? Of course with a character of a racist pig with a pea brain you will obviously find generalised opinion that all of Africa must be the same. It is the same as saying that all of the Americas is steeped in drug trafficking.

    January 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  20. BTM

    Being a student and being Unfamiliar with the BRIC i cannot say i know what criteria a country must meet to be admitted into it. I can, however, from my experience comment on the opinions left here. I think that all countries in the world have a unique problems that assail their development, nevertheless it seems that all African countries have one common problem: the image they have had tagged onto them by the world that we are a dark, savage, ravaged "doomed" continent as Afropersimist so eloquently put it. I am of the opinion that it is unfair that while the world is so imperfect with a multitude of problems that Africa should be judged on impossible scales of perfection. I know South Africa reasonably especially because i live right next door in Swaziland and have family there, in have also lived in Guangzhou China a fast developing city and in Hong Kong and i see little difference in the infrastructure between them and say Johannesburg. SA is a Shining example of what an African country can achieve with its vast resources and a little stability. Therefore i see no base for questioning the compentency of her handling her resources.I think one needs to live and breathe in SA to truly understand and not to rely on memories of yesteryear or on the images of biases media before making judgements. Let the people who actually know the facts and figures do the decison making and if you have a baseless opinion keep it in your living room.
    SA is on its way up if it can maintain political stability and hopefully the rest of Africa will follow suite

    P.S. watch out for Ghana and Nigeria

    January 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  21. Andre

    @ Dave R South Africa has the best skills and infrastructure in the world when it comes to mining...btw

    The main reason SA was invited to join the BRIC is due to SA's strategic importance in Africa. If you want to do business in Africa you have to come through SA. SA is the gateway to Africa. Everyone knows that.

    January 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  22. Sweet Sharon

    This is a joke, right???! The Africans are still living in Jurassic Park. They have no abilities in all the crucial areas to be an economic powerhouse: No technology. No mass skilled labour. No fiancial and marketing prowess. No nothing, except a lot of brawns to win Olympic medals in events where brute force is the name of the game.

    January 4, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  23. Sweet Sharon

    A big fish in a small pond..that is SA in Africa. But once you put them on worldf stage, they are minnows swimming in the company of sharks. I think China and Russia are making use of SA as a pawn, and SA is just too happy to play along.

    January 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  24. mjs

    No never, presently apartheid is been rebranded.
    There is still a lot of discrimination based on the colour of ones skin
    and nationality even if you are south african born.
    There is still many apartheid like structures and employees at
    corporates and companies like law firms,teaching institutions such as
    universities and semi government organisations like health professions council.

    January 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  25. SLK

    No, south africa has too many elements linked to western colonialism that enriched the few whites enormously.
    Whites have been living unethically in south africa.
    It is definitely not western-liberal....its more western ultra conservative
    ... imagine...a province of europe filled with rednecks using
    phrases from the bible to hide their hatefulness...................

    January 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  26. hahaa

    We can't even govern ourselves now they want us to join BRIC?

    South Africa is doomed, just like every other African country. History doesn't lie.

    Left-wing extremists already want to take away away property laws and nationalize mines. Second Zimbabwe coming up.

    January 4, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  27. irsyad

    What about Indonesia!!!!

    January 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  28. deep_forrest

    BRICSA would make more sense than BRICS – and sound better as well...

    (that way, no one will be expecting the mortar)

    @ Mark K – India has exactly the same issue to deal with, just on a scale 30 x larger

    @ Dave R – New Orleans pips any South African city by a fair margin (murders per capita). And by the way Moscow and Rio de Janeiro are both right up there with Cape Town (not Johannesburg, oddly enough) and New Orleans in the top 10 murder Capitals of the world.

    January 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  29. David

    Pretty interesting, considering that S.A. was a first world country under white only rule ... now it's a garbage dump with "safe" areas surrounded by guards and wire fences. Good love "minority" rule ... ;-)

    January 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  30. sk

    No,South Africa is still run by western colonialists

    January 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  31. José Henrique

    I don´t think so. BRICs are countries with big populations, enormous areas and natural resources and fast growing GDP´s. It will not be changed so fast... On the other hand, the important thing is that these economies maintain a sustainable growth, generating a strong middle class, and not just the name "BRIC"...

    January 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  32. CUNT

    i think Zimbabwe should join.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  33. bjd

    The question is really more about whether this group should become BIC rather than BRIC. Russia is making itself irrelevant, and stands to sink below the horizon.

    January 4, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  34. Grisam

    No denying that South Africa and Indonesia are powerful up-and-coming countries, but are they really worthy of being BRIC behemoths? The thing with BRIC is that all the countries have strong economic potential with a fully tapped market. South Africa is not in that zone yet. Perhaps it has the potential to become a strong market, but it hasn't reached its' potential yet.

    January 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  35. Jason

    There seems to be some misconception amongst South African nationals about what BRIC is about, or what a good country is.

    Each of the 4 countries in the BRIC are either superpowers or will be superpowers. They have rapid growth. Huge growth potential. Huge countries with billions of poor people, rapidly rising to OECD income levels.

    I just don't see South Africa's growth potential. It has a stagnant economy, incompetant leadership, foreign exchange controls, crime levels that would make a Russian mayor blush and doesn't have any significant ability to project power beyond its borders. It can't even control its border with Zimbabwe. It's also got a tiny population of only 50 million – how can it stand shoulder to shoulder with the other BRIC members?

    South Africa does not belong with the BRIC nations.

    January 4, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  36. bunhas

    I believe the african pessimists are filled with rage and envy against us, african, because SA is not an european, they wanted spain or portugal to be invited, look at so called emergency economies of europe, ireland and spain, they were bulit on a lie, SA on the contrary, did not felt the financial crises, why, coz our baboons thought well, and advised us not to invest lik the whites....

    January 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  37. Digby Green

    Talking about Indonesia.

    I saw a tv docu recently that showed that one reason they were doing well was that they protect their industries and that Indonesians always bought Indonesian made goods in their shops.

    So they have a good manufacturing industry (clothes etc).
    China won't like that.

    And I think China wants SA in the BRICs so it can get its hands on their minerals.

    January 5, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  38. Wynand Meyering

    When BRIC invited South Africa to join them, they invited a country whose companies have made significant investments in Africa. MTN is an example of a company with revenues of $5 billion that has a cellular network in 21 African countries. Recently Wall Mart acquired a stake in Massmart SA, which has retail shops in 15 African countries. So SA is strategically in a position to expand trade and business into Africa. Allowing South Korea or Indonesia to join will not give the same benefits to investors and BRIC: unlock growth of Africa's commodity rich countries. MTN has grown within 16 years from nothing to a company with a market value of $35bn.

    January 7, 2011 at 6:10 am |
  39. joyce

    hmmm economics included ,Russia takes on the page but analysis is not about being among the BRIC ,much Russia is contributing 68
    % interms of energy and fuels ,i think SA has a share it is contrivuting especially much of it exported to other countries .

    if analsysis is to be made the the whole of southern African would be involved ,but the yshould let it go

    January 8, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  40. Manuel Vilhena

    Very interesting. In my opinion is too small to change the acronym.

    January 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  41. uche

    de 'afro' in your adopted name shows that your not a man of honour – for you to bear a name for which you have so much disrespect for. come to africa lets re-educate you. its obvious your seriously in need of it.

    January 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  42. Robin

    An African nation with infrastructure, natural and human resource capacity, political influence, scitek industries, cultural/ethnic/religious diversity, nuclear/alt. energy resources, and trade muscle such as the "New" South Africa must join BRIC as an emerging nation. Such a partnership will keep the pressure on SA to make the "New" in SA real for all its people. Its part as a SADEC nation will, I agree, bring southern Africa into the BRIC sphere of influence and social/economic benefits, eventually for all of Africa. Crime/violence are ubiquitous, including SA and they must learn how to deploy/control the media hype about many forms of violence there including gender-based violence. Both South Africa, Indonesia, and Turkey will , inevitably, eventually become part of BRIC and are being watched as such by The Economist and other global heavy hitters (imperialist and non).

    January 13, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  43. Larry

    Not everyone will like it, but should it be possible SADAC as a grouping should be allowed to join BRIC the combined population, infrasture, human capital, wealth and mineral reserves is sufficient to join the team – the Regional grouping has a track record worthy of it being intergrated as a team to join BRIC – acronym/ name whatever you call it is really not as important as what the elite team will represent.

    January 13, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  44. eliot

    can CNN tell me why they dont have a black contributor to those on the left,on theright clumn i can see contributors from all races,why dont we have black contributors on that list,i can see some abusive racist remarks like baboons" being used to refer to black South Africans,why is CNN allowing people to post racially abusive comments,

    January 14, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  45. Jomo

    whether we join BRIC or not It makes no difference. Our country is just too beautiful. We are enjoying ourself without anyone from outside. We have very good universities, good infrastructure far much better than some Western countries. We have best beers and wines. We have no conficts we other countries like other western countries who always live in fear of terror attacks. Oh what a great country we have. I have been to many western countries but i have never find joy like I do in my country. So many foreigners especially from the West are buying property in our country, why? Because SA is beautiful. Our game park are full of visitors from the west. Ask them why they keep on coming to our country.

    January 16, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  46. James

    @Sweet Sharon, your comments unfortunately portray you as a low-life with no knowledge of Africa. You have demonstrated your stupidity and sheer hate with your hate comments which leave bright minds wondering why you still live in the stone age while the world and Africa in particular have passed. You need education about Africa. Many folks like you just open their mouth and spit shit. What you wrote here is a stinking shit and it shows your are just a shit.Whether SA joins your BRIC or whatever you call it will not change the progress our country has made in the last decades. VIVA Africa!

    January 19, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  47. Jefferson Virote

    Let me ignore some "boysss comments" above and allow me to talk a little deeper.
    South Africa may not be a complete candidate to be called a BRIC member as pointed before, in terms of GDP, extension, population etc... But they have other credentials and the most significant is geopolitically speaking. That is the point to pay attention.
    BRIC is the acronym of the largest emerging countries as a balance against the major, but old, western countries, historical and politically speaking, and South Africa is a strategic member to reinforce this thesis.


    It is one of them. There is another. Think about it!!
    from Brazil.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:54 am |
  48. Sargon


    I live in South Africa and run a business that is slowly venturing into Africa. There are 1 Billion people on this continent. They need cars, computers , houses and food just like any other person in the world. South Africa has Massive infrastructure, comparable to any country you choose to pit us against.. Yes there are problems, but, there are failures in Europe , USA has shortcomings and if scrutinized negatively enough, every major country in the world will seem bad over at least one or two issues. Difference is that South Africa is dealing with most issues, some effectively and some poorly. We have a free media so shortcomings are highlighted , corruption exposed and for the most part dealt with. One cannot overlook our World class banking, telecoms, IT ,manufacturing and Tech sectors. We are a world Mining Powerhouse and the bread basket of the continent. We have farms that rival anything you will find in the States. On issues of land and ownership, the ANC has done a lot of work and made "miracles" happen over the last 15 years. It is unfair to bundle us with Zimbabwe and Somalia, We are not even in the same ballpark. So to comment on whether or not to join BRIC, and looking at some of the facts objectively there is no good reason why South Africa and inter alia Africa should not join. I would like to think that every dollar invested in Africa will return two in the same time as you will lose 10 cents investing in Europe. China sees our potential, maybe its time the Western Nations , removed some predisposed slogans attached to Africa and reviewed the present reality. If the world economy is going to keep growing, that growth needs to come from somewhere. Africa presents the biggest opportunity for that growth. Welcome world Africa is open for business.

    January 27, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  49. Evilsushi

    I think too many people are reading too much into what BRIC means. It was simply a term some banker came up with to describe some emerging markets. It's not an us against them term. I don't know why there seems to be alot of speculation that this is some positioning against the west, it is not. Heck the west wants these markets to grow, because our markets will grow too. Don't you realize capitalism doesn't take money from one individual to feed another individual, it creates new money from old to feed everybody. Once everybody realizes this we will all be better. As for South Africa joining the BRICs sure why not but you should also consider Turkey, Mexico, and Nigeria too. South Korea is arguably fully first nation and Russia and Turkey are not too far behind.

    January 28, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  50. Antje

    South-Africa a role model for South-Korea? That is laughable. South-Korea is so much ahead of all other continental Asian countries and way ahead of alll of Africa. There are only specks in the rear-view mirror, so to say.
    South-Africa used to be the lead neation for Africa and at the highest level on a world scale. Now they must take care not to wind up as Zimbabwe.

    January 31, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  51. Ricoffy1

    South Africa with a president like Zuma has no chance of ever becoming a successful nation – the parasites have arrived and are hovering for the kill ! A nation riddled with imbeciles – you'll see

    February 8, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  52. Pele

    SA to host World Cup?
    SA to Join Bric bloc?
    What's the next question about SA?
    Evilsushi, I get tour point.

    February 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  53. Roger

    Whoo, quite a few afro pessimists out there. They must be feeling a bit stupid right now 1) successful world cup 2) now a member of the BRICS. 16 years ago you were saying SA wouldn't be a success under black rule, sounds like you'll be waiting a helluva lot longer!

    February 12, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  54. SA Boy

    I lived in Australia and New Zealand which are so – called 1st world countries......What a joke. For any of you idiots that traveled to S.Africa, N.Z and Australia, you will clearly agree that S.Africa's infrastructure is way ahead. You have got 2, 4 and 6 lane highways linking every single city in S.Africa. Try traveling from Brisbane to Sydney by road. There is a UN website that also verifies various countries infrastructure in a way of points. As for the rest of Africa – yes its a PATHETIC place. 90% of multi nationals head offices in Africa are based in S.Africa. All you have to do the next time you buy any expensive item – look at the service centers and 99% of the time you will only find S.Africa under "AFRICA list" with a service center.
    BTW – All you clowns from the US – Look where your C class Merc is made. Clowns from Australia / NZ – look where your Golf GTI's, 3 series BMW's, Ford Utilities, C class Mercs, Mazda B series are made.
    And the next time one of you wants to wipe the smile off your faces after eating a nandos burger ... just do some homework and see which country owns Nandos.
    Truely a powerhouse of Africa and deserves to join the BRIC bloc.

    February 26, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  55. Jack Cell

    I am not against S.Africa. But they will have to go a long bumpy road to be inlcuded in this group. The group is not called BRIC just becuse they found the title a beatiful name. It involves many things and a visibility in the word productive countries. The same gos for Indonesia.

    February 26, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  56. Emery

    I think S. Africa sould just stay they way they are , we already have too much separetation in the wolds the rich vs the poor , white vs black ect...... Separation brings conflict and that brings war. The world has so many division and wars we don't need anymore division or bullies

    March 4, 2011 at 10:39 pm |


    March 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  58. Jayson

    South Africa is a door to Africa. We all know Africa sits on most of the world's minerals and yes China and Russia already knows that, that's why South Africa was invited to join.

    The pessimist are the Americans once again. Of course Americans want to control everything, that's why they have become the most hated nation. Not to mention the WARS they get into. Vietnam, Iraq, Afganistan and now Libia.

    April 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm |

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