Kizito Okechukwu | August 30, 2023
Today’s global economy is faced with a key challenge of centralization of the monetary policy, where several regulatory bodies have dictated the financial policy that governs the rest of the world and sometimes, in an unfair manner, where for instance one country gets treated differently compared to another – just because of where they come from, even though both countries have the same risk profile. According to a paper by the United Nations, titled ‘The future is decentralised’, the potential of blockchains and other technology to disrupt industrial sectors, commercial processes, government structures and economic systems know no bounds.
Last week, dozens of world leaders converged in Johannesburg for the 15th BRICS summit. Pre-BRICS, there were a lot of tensions in various political circles. It was all about what could go wrong. Is BRICS a new world order? Is it about to unsettle and upset the status quo? In certain circles that I was a part of prior to the 15th BRICS summit, many argued on BRICS dislodging the US and Western powers. Obviously, this stems from the power blocs, such as G7, G20 and other blocs that have wielded immense power over the years, which mostly have the US, France, Germany and the UK as leaders and key decision-makers in these other several organisations.
I argue that it’s not about pitting one against the other, but rather, how does BRICS achieve inclusivity and unity and include the excluded? How can BRICS work towards decentralization of the world’s economy? My view is that BRICS should focus on influencing world trade, redefine alliances and push for a more decentralized global power and decision-making. It should also push for a United Nations that supports a common voice, goal and a much fairer world.
Enough about geo-politics and protectionism! At last week’s BRICS, the 22 On Sloane team was officially part of the digital and SMME work stream. My colleague our Investment Associate Zinhle Mncube facilitated the digital work stream with several key stakeholders, which focused on how technology is used to pursue conventional ends and how technology has brought some efficiency and effectiveness to economic growth, financial inclusion, energy and water security, and trade.
I was fortunate to attend the BRICS Business Forum, where various businesses shared their views on opportunities and challenges and how BRICS could be a global force to be reckoned with and how various private and public sectors in the bloc could work together to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfcFTA) to achieve positive trade for the continent.
On the sidelines of BRICS 2023, and in the presence of Algeria’s Minister of Finance, Laasiz Fayed and the Ambassador of Algeria to South Africa, His Excellency Mohammed Hacene, 22 On Sloane signed a co-operation agreement with A-Venture, which is a public-private sector startup accelerator, focused on supporting the start and scale of startups in Algeria. Our co-operation agreement will support the development of technology startups in Algeria and South Africa; have exchange programmes with Algerian and South African startups; develop a soft landing programme that enables Algerian and South African startups to collaborate more closely, pool their concepts and explore new markets; and collaborate in various networking initiatives for access to markets and capital platforms, such as the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC+) Africa and other similar platforms.
I was enthused by what BRICS stands for, what it represents and how it has been inclusive in bringing in various players in the ecosystems, especially with various lead-up activities, which were crucial in bringing in different voices to add to the economic development of the world – and a world order that is not about West vs East vs BRICS, but rather a collaborative and inclusive economy that has all countries participating for the greater common good.
After all, with new members added to the bloc, the BRICS+ mechanism aims to promote peace, security, development, and co-operation.
Kizito Okechukwu is the Executive Head of 22 On Sloane and the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa.
22 On Sloane is the largest startup campus in Africa. The campus offers disruptive startups and innovative SMEs a complete turnkey solution to scale, from the initial idea all the way to commercialisation, funding opportunities and access to markets. Its aim is to nurture the entrepreneurial mindset, ensure their sustainability, and explore development of new industries and contribute towards job creation in Africa.
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