By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
South Africa has received at least $2 billion in financial assistance from the New Development Bank since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The New Development Bank is an initiative of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, which seeks to mobilise resources for infrastructure and development in the emerging economies of developing countries.
The financial assistance was revealed by President Cyril Ramaphosa who was reflecting on the importance of the BRICS countries' collaboration in his weekly newsletter to the country.
Ramaphosa said the financial injection is being used to fight the pandemic and to support the country’s economic recovery and that during last week’s BRICS summit, countries resolved to do even more to fight the pandemic collaboratively.
"BRICS countries agreed to deepen cooperation to fight COVID-19 and mobilise the political support and financial resources needed to respond to future pandemic preparedness. There has also been substantial cooperation with our BRICS partners in securing personal protective equipment and cooperation around vaccine access and distribution," he said.
According to Ramaphosa, the countries also agreed to establish a virtual BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre and a BRICS Integrated Early Warning System to "forecast future outbreaks of infectious diseases".
The President added that during the summit, countries agreed to further deepen ties in several sectors as countries move towards economic recovery.
"BRICS partners agreed to strengthen collaboration in catalytic sectors such as energy, IT, science, technology and innovation, agriculture and the green economy.
"These are all important sectors identified in our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan announced last year. Cooperation with other BRICS countries, particularly in the field of innovation research, will help to accelerate our country’s industrialisation and help us meet our Fourth Industrial Revolution aspirations," he said.
The President reiterated that for the past 11 years, the BRICS bloc has been and remains "of immense strategic importance" for South Africa.
"Being a member of BRICS has enhanced our position as an important emerging economy. It has given us access to policy and technical expertise of larger and established economies, as well as access to the support of the National Development Bank.
"It has strengthened our activism on the global stage, particularly around reform of multilateral institutions. We have benefitted from being part of a collective voice striving to advance a world order based on mutual respect and the equal sovereignty of nations, "Ramaphosa said.