Meet our issue 7 guest editor – Aurélie Adam Soule Zoumarou

Aurélie Adam Soule Zoumarou is knowledgeable and skilled Telecommunications and ICTs professional who built up an experience in the ICT industry (SFR France, Accenture France, ARCEP Benin, GSMA Afrique).

She returned to Benin in 2008 and devoted her time and work at the Regulator’s Office ARCEP BENIN, where her responsibilities included: but not limited to; radio-communications and radio frequencies management.

In addition to all these, she played an active role in the participation of Benin and Africa in the 2015 ITU World Conference in 2015. Past challenges have led to earning a legitimate place in the team in charge of the GSMA’s involvement with Governments, Regulators and Regional Organizations in the African region.

She obtained a Master’s degree with a focus on Telecoms and ICT Engineering from Telecom Sud Paris and also holds a Certificate in Management of Public Policies and Leadership from Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public affairs of Syracuse University (New York).

She has enrolled in a Ph.D program in Information Science and Communication at Ecole Doctorale Montaigne – Humanités de l’Université Bordeaux Montaigne in France since August 2017 and has been working on the thesis: “Analysis of Public Policies and the advent of Telecommunication Networks and ICTs Services in rural Africa”.

In October 2017, the President of the Republic of Benin, His Excellency Patrice Talon appointed her as state Minister in charge of Digital Economy and Communications with the motive of: ​Making Benin a digital services platform provider for West Africa, in order to accelerate growth and achieve social inclusion.​

Mrs Zoumarou is also BRICS Journal’s guest editor for our new print issue 7, she provides insightful knowledge as to why it is crucial for Africans to play a leading role in the second machine age, and the proactive steps Benin has taken to secure the future of its citizens.

The young generation of the BRICS countries want a bigger say in their future

It’s more than 40 years since South Africa’s youth took a stand against the oppressive apartheid regime. 16 June 1976 will be remembered as the day when many young people in the country
paid the ultimate price for their convictions and their demand to be heard. Now the youth are again standing up, demanding that they be given opportunities to access institutions of higher learning and by doing so, determine their own future. But unlike the youth of 1976, today’s generation is
faced with myriad complex challenges.

The young generation around the world have classified themselves as “millennials” – they are eager and able to solve their demanding issues, while at the same time having the energy and drive to start their own enterprises. But the aspirations of many young people are dented by high levels of unemployment that often lead to the use of violence to express anger and frustration. This phenomenon is not unique to South Africa but is rather a global trend.

With increased engagement and interaction among the youth from the BRICS nations, it’s evident that they indeed have many shared goals and challenges. And like their 1976 comrades, one thing is clear about the modern youth: they are not afraid to challenge the existing political and social dispensation. One of the biggest obstacles in their way is that the youth need to realise they live in what Bell Hooks calls a “white supremacist patriarchal capitalist society”. This system promotes wealth monopoly, selfishness and greed. While Bell Hooks refers to youth in general, the
challenges of unemployment and poverty are specifically very real for black youngsters.

Experts say that for black youth to face these trials head on, they should be encouraged to step away from the victim mentality, while at the same time letting go of their sense of entitlement and dependency that merely deceives them into believing that life owes them something. Like so many young people around the world, those in BRICS countries should be encouraged to change
their mind-sets, to take responsibility and trust in themselves, believing that they have the power to turn their lives around.

Find full article on BRICS Journal 5th Issue 

Image: East Coast Radio 

Russia-Us Relations : The art of balancing

Russia-US relations over the next six years will be characterised by a type of balancing act as each country attempts to consolidate its interests in Eurasia. 

Why six years? Six years from now will mark the completion of President Vladimir Putin’s fourth and final term in office – and the final term of President Donald Trump, should he be reelected to office. Ties between the US and Russia will, to a large extent, determine the future of Eurasia’s stability.

Acquiring a deeper understanding of the two countries and their interaction is key. What is each aiming to achieve in Eurasia, and is it possible to forecast certain outcomes of their engagements with each other? Two important developments have recently occurred: the re-election of Putin to his final term in office, and Trump’s perceived “taming” of the State Department through the appointment of his new Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. The first development was easily predicable, but the second came as a surprise for many.

Taken together, they will help determine the course of Russia-US relations over the next few years. The Kraken and The Balancer In order to better understand RussiaUS relations, it’s necessary to first have a general understanding of Trump and Putin’s worldviews.

This will enable us to see where the two leaders’ interests converge and diverge. Trump is fondly described by his supporters as “The Kraken” – a mythological Norse sea monster known for causing problems.

To them, and the Balancer are all too evident in three conflict situations, playing out in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria, respectively. The situation in the Eastern European country is currently frozen, while the one in the southcentral Asian state is heating up.

Each case, on the surface, appears to be totally disconnected from the other. However, the future of both Ukraine and Afghanistan may be intertwined with the outcome of the conflict in Syria. On this, Russia and the US are curiously at the closest they’ve ever been to reaching an agreement.

Find the full article in BRICS Journal’s 6th Issue 

Women-in-BRICS: Russia Female Entrepreneur in India

It would be a mistake to think that the concept of housewife does not exist in Russia, but it is far from being a major trend. In India, Russian women married to Indians most often become housewives, especially at the initial stage of adjusting to a new life.

However, a growing number of them are finding corporate jobs, getting involved in part-time projects or working with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). A few Russian wives are even running their own businesses, inspiring others to be brave and daring too.


Her day starts with laundry. Dozens of bed sheets and towels are transported from her salon to her home, before being taken for bleaching, cleaning and drying. The same procedure has been followed every single day for the past five years. “I want to be sure that hygiene standards are met,” says Yuliya Pednekar, the owner of Oracle Salon in the Mumbai suburb of Malad. “This is something I cannot compromise on.”

It took Pednekar a long time to pluck up the courage to open her own business after coming to Mumbai from Almaty, Kazakhstan, with her Indian husband in 1997. A graduate in hospitality management, she kept searching for opportunities and finally got into the beauty sector, first as a make-up artist and then as a hairstylist.

“I didn’t have any education or training as a hairstylist when the manager, Lakme, offered me the job. The staff convinced me that I’d manage,” she recalls. “Well, I messed up a couple of times initially, but I believe that my innate sense of aesthetics helped me a lot.”

After six months of working for Lakme, Pednekar felt that she needed to perfect her newly acquired skills and went to Kazakhstan to study hairdressing. Not only did her education open up new opportunities on her return to India, it also instilled in her greater self-confidence.

Over the past few years, she has obtained the international CIDESCO and CIBTAC certificates – both prestigious qualifications in the aesthetics and beauty therapy industries. “My aim was to be independent from my husband, financially and practically – and to realise my potential, skills, talents and knowledge,” Pednekar says.

Today she manages a salon, leading a team of five beauticians. Although her husband is a proprietor of the company on paper, he hardly interferes in her business. “He deals with all paperwork, taxes and formalities, of course. With my artistic personality and chaotic work style, I would not be able to do such work,” she says.

 “There are other elements that disturb business too, from Mumbai’s municipal officials to quasi-mafia representatives collecting funds for religious festivals and political parties. I’ve learned how to deal with them with the help of my husband.”

Being a foreigner does not make it harder for Pednekar to run her business. Since she’s fluent in Marathi and Hindi, she manages her employees and customers with great ease. “Sometimes people are confused seeing a firangi (foreigner), but the moment you relate to them by discussing kids or Punjabi outfits, they accept you,” she says.

Pednekar believes that for the many young girls she employs, this work offers a different experience. “They feel safe and relaxed here, they explore the world through interacting with people,” she says. “I respect them and trust them. Although I know that bosses should behave differently, I just cannot.”

full article in BRICS Journal’s 6th Issue

10 influential women of BRICS in Politics

For years women in emerging economies had being relegated to the background. This is especially true in key areas of politics and development. Women have been limited to certain jobs, unlike their male counterparts. Female politicians are subjected to many challenges such as discrimination and social stigmas. Over the past years, there have been women who have changd the narrative against all odds.

BRICS has called for an increased participation of Women in the economy and in the society and has made mention of the launch of a BRICS Gender Forum in the near future.

Read up more on these phenomenal women in BRICS:

Lindiwe Sisulu
Apartheid activist, who has been serving in different South African Government Ministries since 1994. Sisulu is currently serving as a Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini- Zuma
Anti- Apartheid activist and politician, Dr Dlamini Zuma, has been serving in the South African government since 1994 and currently serving as Minister in the presidency for the National Planning Commission For Policy and Evaluation.

Sonia Ghandi
Former President of the Indian National Congress, Ghandi took over as party leader since 1998, seven years after her husband’s assassination. She remained in office for nineteen (19) years, being the longest serving president in 125 years old history the congress.

Sushma Swaraj
Indian politician and former Supreme Court lawyer. A senior leader and former president of Bharatiya Janata party, Swaraj has served in different Indian government Ministries. She was voted the Most Loved by US Daily.

Marina Silvanah
Currently Brazil’s Presidential candidate in the 2018 Brazil election representing the Sustainability Party, Silvanah is known for her views of environmental conservation and her conservative social views.

Vanessa Graizziotin
Brazilian politician from the Communist Party of Brazil, her political career began in 1980. She is the first female communist Senator. Graizziotin is known for her proposals in the Chamber of Deputies of a Green Seal for goods manufactured on the Manaus Free Trade Zone, prohibition of the distribution of plastic bags, and the creation of the Day of African and Amerindian Culture.

Ella Pamfilova
Russian politician, former deputy of the State Duma, presidential candidate in 2000 and former chairman (2004 – 2010) of the Civil Society Institution and Human Rights Council of the Russian Federation. In 2016 she became the chair of the Central Election Commission of Russia, she has also pledged to fix election rigging in Russia.

Valentina Matviyenko
Russian politician serving as the Senator from Saint Petersburg and Chairwoman of the Federation Council since 2011, as chair she has attained the highest rank of any female politician in Russia and became the most powerful woman in Russia since Catherine the Great. She was also Governor of Saint Petersburg from 2003 to 2011.

Sun Chunlan
Chinese politician, a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, and a Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China. Between 2014 and 2017, she served as head of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Li Bin
Chinese politician of Manchu descent from Fushun, in Liaoning province. She is the Chair of the National Health and Family Planning Commission from 2013 to 2018. She currently serves as one of the chairwomen of The 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference since March, 2018. In 2013, she was elected as the first chairperson of the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

By: Mokgethi Mtekuza & Kgothatso Nkanyane

China rallies BRICS support as US steps out trade-war

China has rallied the backing of BRICS in fighting protectionism as US President Donald Trump has threatened tariff impositions on virtually all Chinese imports.

China, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa have agreed to “fight against trade protectionism together”, after the G20 Summit of finance ministers and central bankers in Buenos Aires, the Chinese Finance Ministry confirmed in a statement.

Finance Minister Liu Kun told the meeting that BRICS should: ”firmly support economic globalisation and multilateralism and unequivocally oppose unilateralism and protectionism in any form,’’ as the global economy faces increasing uncertainties and instability.

Liu also urged his counterparts to push for advanced nations to adopt “responsible” economic policies, and closely monitor the pressure on capital flows in emerging markets brought forward by policy changes in developed nations.

The statements were released subsequent to Donald Trump saying is he is prepared to impose $500bn in tariffs on imports from China. Trump alleged that the China and European Union are weakening their currencies to obtain trade benefits.

Source: Fin24

The BRICS Film Festival showing at Durban Playhouse

Side-lining the 10th BRICS summit, the BRICS Film Festival will be hosted by the City of Durban and the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) at Durban Playhouse. The film festival aims to strengthen and highlight social diversity and cultural development in BRICS countries. The film festival is free and open to the public.

The opening night, 22 July 2018 will be start off with a film titled Mandela, (5 minutes videos from each member of the BRICS bloc), celebrating and commemorating the life of SA icon Nelson Mandela. The film will then be followed by performances of dance and music.

Members of BRICS submitted five films each and only two films will be selected, by an independent panel from each member. The National Film Foundation (NFVF) is arranging the prestigious event.

Each country in the bloc will have a day to show five of their best recent films, in all genres. South Africa will be showcasing their five best films on Monday 23 July; Tuesday 24 July Russia; Wednesday 25 July India; Thursday; 25 July China and on Friday 27 July Brazil will be showcasing.

Two of the five films played will be completion entries. The best films, chosen by the independent panellists will be awarded on the final day – 27 July 2018.

By: Kgothatso Nkanyane

Ramaphosa secures a $10 billion investment commitment from Saudi Arabia

Cyril Ramaphosa held a meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on Thursday, where he secured a minimum $10 billion investment commitment from the Saudi Arabian government.

The state visit to the kingdom nation is the second leg of a three-country tour the President is on.

Ramaphosa first met with the country’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, where a commitment was made that the oil-rich nation will invest a minimum of $10 billion in South Africa.

The investment will mostly be directed to power and energy creation. Ramaphosa set a target of $100 billion of new investment in South Africa over the next five years, Saudi is one step closer to the target.

Source: Eye Witness News

BRICS Africa Infrastructure Programme launches

The BRICS establishment continues to break new grounds ahead of the upcoming 10th BRICS Summit.

Wednesday 10 July marked the official launch of the BRICS Africa Infrastructure programme, initiated by the BRICS Business Council Infrastructure Working Group. This is a brand new project portal  that will create and encourage connectivity amongst BRICS member states.

The Infrastructure Working Group in partnership with with Transnet are tasked with the mission of promoting manufacturing, job creation and facilitate interaction among businesses.

Said Transnet Freight Rail Chief Executive, Mr. Ravi Nair: “The Working Group is creating the connectivity of BRICS  projects as a vehicle for project owners to meet with potential funders/sponsors. It will also be available to the global community that is interesting in understanding the status of infrastructure projects and their funding. The projects’ visibility will assist in unlocking more opportunities, funding and to initiate practical cooperation projects in the infrastructure space. The portal will also allow African investors interested in opportunities in other BRICS Member states to have access to project information.”

The portal will be hosted on South Africa’s BRICS business Council website. The BRICS Business Council was established in 2013 with the aim of promoting business engagement between the BRICS countries.

Additional reporting: SABC News

BRICS Friendship Cities, Local Government Cooperation & Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Disaster

The BRICS Friendship cities, Local Government Cooperation and Urbanisation Forum and the meeting of the BRICS Task Force on Disaster Management took place from the 28 June – 1 July in Buffalo City, East London.

A declaration regarding the engagement of BRICS states/provinces through cities and local bodies was signed at the Ministerial Meeting. The Urbanisation Forum’s main goal is to promote people to people cooperation amongst BRICS nations and collaboration at local government level.

The Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Disaster was hosted by the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Andries Nel. It was an opportunity to discuss South Africa’s socio-economic development and inclusive growth plans, and how BRICS could help in achieving those plans. It also provides a platform in addressing challenges facing the BRICS countries like eco-building, eco-city design, the upgrading of infrastructure and informal settlements as well as new city enlargement proposals.

The disaster meeting was also a chance to learn and share ideas on disaster recovery, how to help municipalities in trouble, how to build durable urban areas, risk management, migration management, how to use urban development to end poverty and help the disadvantaged.

The BRICS meetings was also a knowledge exchange on waste reduction, recycling, climate change and energy usage efficiency. The conclusion of these meetings ended in the signing of two separate declarations as a commitment, to affirm cooperation of BRICS countries with in this department and to create a guideline for moving forward.