Cyril Ramaphosa birthday BRICS

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: GCIS

Ramaphosa calls for COVID-19 stimulus support at BRICS summit

Ramaphosa celebrated his 68th birthday alongside some of the world’s most powerful leaders, and called for unity among emerging nations.

Cyril Ramaphosa birthday BRICS

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa celebrated his 68th birthday on Tuesday 17 November alongside some of planet earth’s most prominent world leaders, and while many in his own nation were somewhat slow to pass on their best wishes, he was given plenty of goodwill by his colleagues at the BRICS summit he took took part on. 

The virtual convention lacked cake, candles and cards, but was seized upon as an opportunity for the participating world leaders to speak about their respective country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the association’s ability to assist developing nations to cope with the financial costs associated with the catastrophic global event. 

Ramaphosa appreciative of BRICS unity

The summit, which on Tuesday was chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin,  is an association of five major emerging countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – which together represent about 42% of the global population, 23% of GDP, 30% of the world’s territory and 18% of global trade.

Following a round of birthday cheer directed at Ramaphosa, he delved into some of the serious matters facing the participating countries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has damaged economies and devastated livelihoods across the world,” he said. “Trade and investment has been disrupted, as has global supply and demand.”

“For emerging economies already facing challenges of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment, the pandemic has taken an even greater toll.”

He said that as fellow members of BRICS, they have been called upon to unite and demonstrate “collective will and to provide leadership”.

“This pandemic has taught us the necessity of strengthening health systems and being prepared for future emergencies of this nature and scale. It has shown us the importance of investing in science, technology and innovation,” he said. “Above all, it has taught us that international solidarity must pave the way to stability, security and economic growth.”

Africa in need of Global New Deal roll-out 

Ramaphosa offered specific commendation of Russia and Putin for leading the BRICS during challenging time.

“As South Africa and the African continent more broadly, we are grateful for the solidarity we have received from our BRICS partners, both through bilateral assistance and support for our continental response.”

Ramaphosa – also the chair of the African Union (AU) – then turned his attention to the proposed Global New Deal that would supposedly provide comprehensive stimulus support for struggling African countries. 

“While African leaders acted swiftly to contain the disease, it will take a long time for our economies to recover,” he said. “We therefore endorse the call made by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres for a New Global Deal.”

“In the spirit of this New Global Deal, we call on the international community and our BRICS partners to support a comprehensive stimulus package for African countries. This will enable African countries to contain the disease and rebuild our damaged economies.”

‘Development Bank crucial to resurgence of African nations’ – Ramaphosa  

He said that the New Development Bank has a significant role to play in this regard, saying that to date, the bank has approved $4 billion of COVID-19 related emergency assistance projects, including $1 billion to South Africa to support its health response and social relief measures.

“We welcome the indications from the New Development Bank that it aims to provide up to $10 billion in crisis-related assistance and to support economic recovery efforts. We further welcome the commitment by our Health Ministers to promote access to affordable, quality medicines and to make diagnostic tools available within BRICS countries,” he said. 

He said that in order to fast-track South Africa’s economic recovery, trade and investment ties between BRICS countries must be strengthened, and that it is timely that the participating nations are undertaking a review of the BRICS Strategy for Economic Partnership 2025.

“The pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of an over dependence on fragile global supply chains even for basic foods and essential medical products,” he said. 

“As African countries it has shown us the need to build more resilient national and regional supply-chains to enable the continent to respond more effectively to such crises in future.”