Dated Published: August 2023


Thank you very much Professor Sooklal. Program Director Professor Sarah Mosoetsa, distinguished guests, esteemed members of South Africa's foreign service led by the Ambassador at Large and our BRICS think tank. I greet you all by saying Bom dia, Nǐ hǎo, Soh shang, Shuba, Prabhat, Tobruyal, Molweni, good morning. It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to this 15th BRICS Academic Forum hosted here in South Africa, the land of Nelson Mandela. known as South Africa as the country that always on the side of the most vulnerable because that was what the anti-apartheid struggle has been about. Importantly, ladies and gentlemen, I thought it is important to foreground my input this what is our foreign policy imperatives as South Africa. Those imperatives are encircled by four key aspects. Firstly, it acknowledges the Pan-African nature of the South African society. Secondly, it appreciate that we have obligation towards the global south. And thirdly, ladies and gentlemen, it conscious realisation of deepening cooperation with a more industrialised not in the developed world. And the last but not least which brings us here today it urge us to increase the transformation of global governance institutions with the United Nations being at the apex of that system and to ensure that we transform your global governance institutions.


The theme of the 15th BRICS Academic Forum is aptly entitled BRICS in Africa, a partnership for mutually accelerated growth, sustainable development, and inclusive multilateralism. That theme, ladies and gentlemen, is my submission. It's both aptly and timely as a way for us to pivot concurrent debates in the world about the importance that political sentiments and political expression must always be foregrounded by evidence-based research obligation on this august gathering to ensure that political leaders express sentiments and make public pronouncements based on evidence-based research. As we gather here today, ladies and gentlemen, I suppose the current tectonic shifts that we are going through, not least being the war in Ukraine, poses some of the greatest dangers that we have faced as a world in particular post the 1945 World War II. But it is my submission ladies and gentlemen that it also presents some of the greatest opportunity dividends that as BRICS countries we should be averse. The COVID-19 pandemic ladies and gentlemen evidently has adversely affected us as BRICS member countries in particular the 17 anti-poverty Sustainable Development Goals.

It is therefore critical that by working together, we create a unique partnership that is mutually beneficial and one that promotes accelerated growth and sustainable development, including, ladies and gentlemen, identification of opportune research opportunities and the necessary policy frameworks and best practices for global collaboration amongst BRICS countries. This conference must, therefore, continue to lay the foundation for examining the role of collaborative research and innovation in addressing our global challenges. One of the key areas of research should be the identification of innovative research opportunities that would help the development in all of our countries. It is my submission, ladies and gentlemen, that BRICS countries share many common challenges, social, environmental, economic, and political, amongst others.


But equally so, it is my submission that through increased collaboration, co-creation, and integrated research, we can develop the innovative solutions required to address these challenges in the benefit of all our citizens. As you may be aware, ladies and gentlemen, there are many advantages to research development and innovation amongst BRICS countries. For an example, we can, therefore, leverage the expertise to drive innovation required and to create new opportunities for the development of BRICS. In addition, ladies and gentlemen, collaborative research can help us to build stronger ties amongst our countries and foster greater understanding and cooperation by the sharing of knowledge and expertise, it is my submission that we can build a more prosperous and sustainable future. The creation of new partnerships and collaborations amongst research institutions is essential, enabling the sharing of research information amongst experts that is critical for innovation and development, and it will equally foster increased openness, trust, and mutual respect amongst our people. We are aware about the pitfalls and inherent inherent weaknesses when it comes to the question about research and innovation.


We are aware and conscious, ladies and gentlemen, that the budgetary and public provisions made as regards to research and innovation differs amongst member states of BRICS. For example, ladies and gentlemen, we know that the People's Republic of China, accounts for approximately 75% of overall BRICS country budgets for research and development. The answer is how do we maximise and leverage on the capabilities that present us having such a strategic partner in Brics and how is the People's Republic of China increasingly making strides to building a more moderate economic prosperous and a common prosperity for their society as other members of the BRICS partners. We are not left behind in regards to that very noble intent. Of course, ladies and gentlemen, the positive is that as a collective, the BRICS member countries possess the capacity through the academic forum and the think tank council to analyse better regional and geopolitical conflicts, wars, terrors, terrorism and violent extremism and the rise of populist right-wing narrow nationalism.


And finally, ladies and gentlemen, and probably most important, this 15 BRICS Academic Forum must enable both the state and non-state actors of BRICS to analyse and understand better the increasing geopolitical space accompanied by anxiety and tensions in the world. And it is my submission, ladies and gentlemen, to this 15th Academic Forum that this current tectonic shift presents a defining moment in realising an increased multipolar world and for a concomitant deepening of the multilateral system. I wish you all a productive, robust and engaging conference and look forward to the outcomes of our discussions. Thank you very much.


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