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South Africa: Address by The Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr Buti Manamela, to the 4th Brics Youth Summit Zebula Estate, Bela-Bela, Limpopo

Programme Director Chairperson of the 4th BRICS Youth Summit, Mr Sifiso Mtsweni Heads of Delegation of all member countries Delegates Guests Ladies and Gentlemen:

  It is my pleasure to join you and to be part of this historic fourth BRICS Youth Summit.The sustainability of BRICS as an alternative development partnership initiative depends on the commitment of the delegates in this Youth Summit. Your commitment to the BRICS breathes life to the adage “nothing for us without us.” It is in your collective interest as young people from BRICS countries that BRICS is sustained for the development of our respective countries.The BRICS countries comprise of some of the world’s most populous nations with young people making us a significant proportion of the total national population.  The young people of BRICS must take BRICS seriously because they are the present and future of BRICS. You therefore must demand a seat at the table. To be heard. And to shape this future that belongs to us. You are the rightful heirs of all the medium and long-term development projects that are the core work of BRICS.You stand to benefit the most from development of our countries, individually and collectively. This Summit should ensure that you rise to become co-architects of the development projects, rather than only heirs. As young people, we must embrace the establishment of the The New Development Bank, and the work that it has already started since its launch.We should see this as an alternative financing mechanism that directly challenges the dominance and hegemony of western financing institutions. So, this is not just a development finance institution, but sets the developing world on a different ideological trajectory that does not bind its borrowers to certain undesired political fates, respects their democracy and embrace their national sovereignty. For far too long, the developing world were caught between the pressures of political compliance exerted by the West and the need for development aid from within their countries. The New Development Bank represents a complete turn from this, and as the youth we should therefore defend its finding articles and principles as they are more about democracy and they are about development.Now, let’s look at what the banks says it does.They sets annual targets for development finance that is made available for a set number of projects each year.  Broadly speaking, it is aimed at;

• Fostering development of member countries

• Supporting economic growth

• Promoting competitiveness and facilitating job creation

• Building a knowledge sharing platform among developing countries

Young people need to feature prominently in the investments and projects that are funded by the New Development Bank (NDB).Investing in young people would not be an act of charity and ticking a box to meet a quota. The daring innovation of young people and architecture of the future they want to build for themselves should have the robustness that meets the due diligence of the NDB. At the same time, the NDB focuses on supporting the projects that are relevant to the BRICS countries. Similarly the financing mechanism ought to present a radical shift from conventional mechanisms that limit the Bretten Woods institutions. Without radical mechanisms that enable adequate financing of, and investment in, young people, the Bank would be no different from institutions it seeks to be an alternative of. In its first year of operation in 2016, the NDB approved 7 major projects for an amount of US$ 1.8 billion, which were mostly on renewable energy. In 2017, the number of projects grew to 13 for a total of US$ 3.1 billion. In the current calendar year, the NDB plans to approve 20 new projects estimated at US$ 4 billion. As the number of megaprojects and their funding quantam grows in the coming years, it is important that young people take interest in these projects. Are young people getting jobs in these mega-projects? Are the value chains contributing to skills development and economic development in BRICS member countries? In answering these questions, the BRICS Business Council becomes an important platform for young people to ask these questions and advocate for solutions.Youth participation, particularly young women, in the BRICS Business Council should not be an after-thought that the Council finds way to co-opt into its structures. Youth and women participation should be an intrinsic feature of the evolution of the Council. As relatively new, and modern, structures of BRICS evolve and mature, they should have all the desirable demographic features. Redress should only be a focus of the economic development of the member countries. It would be foolhardy to let BRICS structures evolve to maturity in a way that would later require demographic redress to include youth and women. It is thus a pleasant development that this fourth BRICS Youth Summit has dedicated time for delegates to discuss this important matter of youth participation in the BRICS Business Council, and the New Development Bank. At the moment the BRICS Business Council, with its 9 working groups, largely comprises of respective participating industries. It is in the interest of the Council and young people that they urgently work together to ensure youth participation in the Council. The skills development and economic development of the member countries require the business community to pull together. The growth of existing industries and the establish of new industry would benefit business, that includes young people.  The BRICS Business Council cannot have interests that excludes young people.All this requires a united youth amongst member counties of BRICS. The strength of diversity of youth in BRICS member countries is yet to be fully harnessed in ways we cannot yet imagine. The collaboration of young people in skills development, innovation and entreprenuership has a potential to provide solutions to many of our development challenges.For the collaboration to be effective, it has to be sustained in-between the highlight of the annual summit. As the young people of BRICS member countries, you have the technology to sustain the interaction and collaboration.Although most of you are unlikely to attend the 20th BRICS Youth Summit, you have a responsibility to ensure that at that time, the platforms you would have established have the resilience to benefit the youth of that time. I have confidence that the delegates gathered here are committed to strengthen collaboration in a way that is greater than themselves. It cannot be more truer, that the aspirations of over a billion young people in the BRICS member countries rests on your shoulders, you dare not fail them. And hopefully, we will take advantage of the cooperation started by the visionary leadership of our elders to ensure that it is centered on youth, it is for youth and is driven by youth. I wish you all the best in your discussions, and thank you for listening.

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