This past spring, I heard a lecture by a communications professor about Globalization in Africa. It was a very generic talk, covering many broad issues that concern Africans and policy makers. I was dissappointed to take nothing substantive away from the talk, as I felt it was simply a quick overview of basic themes and topics. However, it was during the second part of his talk, that on South Africa, that I become motivated for my latest paper, Globalization in Emerging Markets United: How South Africa’s Relationship to Africa serves the BRICS (Click here to Read). In no uncertain terms, the professor mitigated South Africa’s involvement in the continent in terms of trade and investment. For someone who claimed to have a special place for the Rainbow Nation in his heart, I was taken aback by the mistatement. Since his talk had contained numerous inaccuracies and misintepretations of South African history, I decided to bite my tongue rather than start a critique on his presentation after the Q&A part began. The talk did provide me an incentive to correct his statement through a research paper that would show how deep South Africa’s involvement with the continent, especially the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Then I would explain that the BRIC countries see this importance and have integrated South Africa into its organization.
The paper starts off by discussing Apartheid South Africa’s interactions with the continent during the time of Total Onslaught and the origins of South African hegemony in the region. It then explains the links through which South Africa and its neighbors are inter-connected by covering certain markets and business sectors that South Africa capital had swept into after the dismantling of anti-apartheid sanctions. The paper then specifially talks about South Africa Telecom by examining the New South Africa poster child for success, MTN, and their continental ventures.
Finally, the paper dives into the formation of the BRICS and South Africa’s invitation to join the organization this spring. By examining trade data from the International Trade Centre, I was able to show how strong South African trade is with the region despite its economy being of much smaller size than it’s new BRICS partners. It turned out to the one of the most empirically based papers I have written to date, but it allowed me to play around with charts and graphs that really made the information come through to visual learners like me.
With this data presented, hopefully a much clearer involvement of South Africa in Africa can be seen. As BRICS membership is likely to change the business and economy of South Africa, this paper would be a useful start for anyone beginning that journey.