During the presidency of Mr Thabo Mbeki, Brazil, India and South Africa formed a partnership in relation to economics, information technology, agriculture and engineering. The partnership was known as BISA. The idea was exchange of the above sciences for the improvement of the nations concerned.
At the time, Brazil and India did not have much in common; in fact South Africa had more to gain as it had historic as well as cultural links with both countries. The result was very different.
In 2004 I found myself working in Belo Horizonte in Brazil. The commercial attorneys that represented the company also advised the Brazilian government on the BISA relationship, hence me having input, otherwise not publicised.
On one social occasion (where the attorneys were present), the discussion turned to South Africa. A simple question was put to me: Does South Africa not have decent agricultural experts and mining engineers? I was surprised, as South African farmers are known world over, and our mining engineers are considered as one of the best in the world.
On further discussions I learnt that Brazil had requested the assistance of South African farmers and mining engineers, and the South African response was engineers for the Brazilian aeronautics industry. The result was catastrophic as the engineers that were sent to Brazil did not (according to the lawyers) understand aviation engineering.
Today India and Brazil, have massive presence in each other’s countries, with companies like Tata and Mahindra in Brazil, and some components of the Brazilian Jet industry being manufactured in India. Both countries invested in South Africa, but by large, South Africa continues to be primarily a trading country. The only South African companies that I am aware of that have made break trough’s are SAB Miller in Brazil and India and NOSA in Brazil. (NOSA was in Brazil before the existence of BISA). I hope there are more.
The result was that BISA collapsed and is now known as BRAIN.
With regards to BRICS, the last leadership summit was held in South Africa in 2013. During the time the South African media concentrated heavily about the location of the proposed BRICS bank, with President Zuma wanting it in South Africa for Africa. According to the press of India and Brazil (O’Globo, El Pais, Clarin, Hindustan Times) the delegations of India and Brazil and China spent most the allotted time of the conference on discussing the economics of the day, as well as factors that would affect the economics of the nations concerned, and who will contribute how much.
If we want the bank for the sake of Africa, then let’s place it in Mozambique or Zambia?
South Africa is again trying to play to ownership rather then what is needed for the improvement of its people. We are blessed to be part of this consortium of countries. However in order to make it work we have to be humble. We need to accept that in most cases they are more equipped then us. Under the leadership of ex-President Lula da Silva, the Brazilian middle class grew at a rate never seen anywhere else in the world. Under the leadership of ex- president Attal Behari Vajpayee India has become a world power.
To both Big Business and Government: Let’s make it work