SA on a mission to find funding for Brics summit

2012-10-13 09:45

The South African government is on a sponsorship drive to find money to host the summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (Brics) in Durban in March next year.

According to a government official closely linked to the inter-departmental team responsible for the summit,
they do not expect to get more than R20 million from the four departments responsible for the summit: international relations, trade and industry, treasury and the presidency.

“That is like having R20 to host a party. There is a big sponsorship drive going on and we have had some sponsors say ‘yes’ in principle, and others we still have to go and convince,” the official said.

The summit will take place in South Africa for the first time, and government officials are nervous about keeping the same standard as the previous one in India, where the summit was held last year.

“The idea is that the summit will have an African look and feel, but the standard of the courtesies we provide must be the same as it was in India, like the kind of hotels where heads of state stay and the kind of vehicles we use to ferry them around. They need to be of a certain standard,” the official said.

It is unclear how much such a summit would cost because, in addition to the actual event, there are many side meetings for business, youth and other interested parties.

The host government pays for the accommodation of the heads of state and a maximum of two assistants – the costs for more staff have to be borne by the other countries.

President Jacob Zuma hopes to involve more African leaders in the summit and a retreat is planned for African leaders and the Brics heads of state after the summit to build trade links between the different countries.

International relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela said: “We want to concretise a programme in which the Brics countries will get involved in the infrastructure development of the continent.”

Catherine Grant-Makokera of the South African Institute of International Affairs said the host country of a Brics summit has the power to set the agenda, which means issues directly affecting Africa will feature strongly on the summit’s to-do list.

“In India they pushed hard for the development bank because that was important to them.

“Now South Africa has a chance to let its own priorities take centre stage,” Grant-Makokera told City Press.

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