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Speech of the President of the Republic, Dilma Rousseff, during the BRICS/Africa Dialogue Forum - Durban/South Africa

I would like to greet the presidents Jacob Zuma, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, members of the BRICS group.

I would like to greet the Heads of State present here, starting with all the African presidents and prime ministers attending this BRICS/Africa Forum.

I would also like to greet the esteemed Mr. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and President of the African Union,

I would like to greet Mrs. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, President of the African Union Commission,

I would also like to greet the ministers and other state authorities present here,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great satisfaction that I meet again in Durban many of the leaders with whom I have had bilateral visits and multilateral meetings, and in Malabo at the last 3rd South America-Africa Summit in February. Therefore, I thank President Zuma for the opportunity to discuss the topic of infrastructure, vital for the development of our countries, BRICS countries, and African countries.

We are certain that when we improve transportation, communications, and energy logistics supply, our countries experience economic growth and also improve the well-being of their populations. We know that in Africa, as in South America and various parts of the world, regional organizations play a crucial role in expanding projects that contribute to the economic structuring of our countries.

Significant steps are being taken, particularly through the Presidential Infrastructure Champions Initiative and the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa, both within the context of the new partnership for Africa’s development.

In contrast to the international crisis scenario, Africa is experiencing significant economic dynamism. Of the top ten countries with the highest projected growth until 2015, seven are African. As a group, BRICS is the second-largest trading partner of Africa, and by far the one with the highest growth rate. BRICS-Africa trade has increased tenfold in a decade, surpassing USD 330 billion in 2012.

However, our partnership can go much further, beyond just trade. For Brazil, it is essential to channel investments, technical cooperation, technology transfer, including social technologies, and other collaboration instruments towards the local development of African countries.

In this meeting, we are discussing how we can apply this partnership between BRICS and Africa. We must build many bridges together – maritime, aerial, cultural, educational, touristic, investment, and commercial – that are necessary for a closer connection between our societies.

Brazil is a country committed to Africa because its population has a strong African component. In fact, we are the largest African population outside Africa. Thus, we have been highly committed to expanding our relationship.

I want to thank the enriching comments made by the African leaders who have spoken so far, and to say that we are aware that Africa is a continent with abundant mineral resources, plentiful water resources, energy potential, and biodiversity, as well as a vibrant culture and a young population determined to forge their own paths of development. This awareness is crucial for us to forge a partnership of equals, a partnership where everyone benefits, a partnership that is the opposite of what has been done in our continents in the last centuries.

Significant progress is being made by many of our countries in seizing all this potential in various sectors. Partnership in agriculture, where Brazil and Africa have immense similarities due to having been part of the same continent millions of years ago; partnership in the energy sector, in mining. There are also notable advancements, I believe, in policies, in education, health partnerships, in social policies, and food security.

I think the opportunity presented today before us, where the BRICS group is willing to contribute its share to overcoming all these challenges, is a strategic moment. We have accumulated experience in addressing infrastructure deficiencies that can help guide our joint efforts.

Brazil has Brazilian companies working here in Africa in the construction sector. Brazil has also established partnerships, in terms of financing, such as the agreement we signed between the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) and the African Development Bank.

We want to share with our African partners the experience of implementing our social programs because until recently Brazil was a country marked by profound social inequality. These programs have proven successful in promoting social inclusion and cover everything from income distribution, job creation, access to public services such as electricity and water, and basic services like health and education.

I want to say that in this sense a significant initiative has been taken with the creation of the BRICS Development Bank that is open to partnerships with developing countries, especially here in Africa. I also want to say, before concluding, that we are all willing to continue exploring innovative mechanisms to enhance our cooperation with Africa.

I am confident that the 21st century will see a more effective and increasingly robust presence of Africa in the economic, political, and cultural world. We, Brazilians, are fully aware of the significant contribution that this mixed-race portion of our population has made to our country, bringing not only an optimistic outlook on life but also a strong work ethic, determination, and being an integral part of our culture.

Once again, I want to express my gratitude and say that this is a special moment. I believe that the BRICS-Africa partnership expands our capacity to transform the world.

Thank you.

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