On June 24, a BRICS+ summit was held in video format, timed to coincide with the summit of the informal BRICS association (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Of the 18 countries that took part in the BRICS Plus summit, 5 represented Africa: in addition to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the meeting was attended by Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboun, Egyptian President Abdelfattah Sisi, Senegalese President Maki Sall and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The summit was also attended by 9 leaders from Asia and 3 from Latin America.
This year, the BRICS chairmanship belongs to China, respectively, it is this country that determines the agenda of the forum and the guests invited to it. The establishment of the BRICS+ format took place in 2017, the year of the previous Chinese presidency, when Egypt, Guinea, Mexico, Tajikistan and Thailand were invited to the Xiamen summit. Such a list of guests violated the established tradition, according to which the guests of the summit were determined by the venue – if the summit was held in Brazil, then the countries of Latin America were invited, in Russia – the CIS, in South Africa – Africa, etc. Moreover, a month ago, on May 19, consultations of the heads of foreign ministries took place in the BRICS+ format, where Africa was represented by Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.
Even if the guest list reflects China’s priorities on the African continent, Russia should be confortable with it. Algeria, Egypt, and South Africa are Russia’s “strategic partners” in Africa, as well as major trading partners. Senegal is gradually becoming one of the main destinations of exports from Russia to Africa, and a political dialogue is also taking shape between the countries.
In BRICS and BRICS+, observers see the political club of the “non-Western” world, which is developing common approaches for further discussions at other international platforms, such as the G20. Russia and China see BRICS as a club of countries interested in creating an alternative to the United States financial and economic order, or at least in limiting their influence. Brazil, India and South Africa are taking a more balanced approach, avoiding confrontational rhetoric. Whether more active involvement of African countries in the work of BRICS will help the association to find a more specific agenda is not yet clear.