The Role of Equity Equivalent Programmes in advancing social justice within the context of BRICS.

Towards BRICS Plural

Invitation of South Africa to the Brazil, Russia, India and China to the trade and development table has come with considerable fan-fare and proponents believe this has increased the prospects of economic prosperity for South Africa. However, the reduction of inequality (UNSDG 10) through broad-based socio-economic development is not a given by implication. To ensure inclusive growth and shared value creation preconditions must be put in place at a local level and must leverage a multi-stakeholder approach.

One of the proposed preconditions is the careful crafting of Equity Equivalent Programmes that address unemployment, inequality and poverty at community level. The proposed preconditions require a reviewed perspective towards Public Private Partnerships and intra-governmental cooperation. The proposal emphasizes the establishment of deeper synergies and the employment of a bottom up approach that uses the existing legislative framework of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment and Integrated Development Planning. Furthermore the proposal emphasizes the exploitation of Artificial Intelligence as a catalyst to fast track the social justice agenda.

21stCentury Geo-politics

The emerging economies of South America, Asia and Europe constitute an increasing proportion of global economic growth. South Africa being the most recent addition to the BRICS Bloc party offers a further gateway for the bloc to access the African continent. With South Africa’s persistently low economic growth levels and high levels of inequality, it is clear that the strategic inclusion of South Africa has had little to do with the strength of the economy, but rather to do with comparatively established infrastructure and strong institutions which provide a prime gateway to make inroads into the continent for member states.

Notwithstanding; the arrangement has availed advantageous circumstances for the continent and country alike, for instance the R196 billion investment commitment by China into;

  • General infrastructure development;
  • Ocean economies;
  • Green economies;
  • Agriculture; and
  • Finance

Further opportunities for South Africa include access to the BRICS Development Bank and a number of trade agreements between member states.

The South African Context

Trading blocs are not in any measure a new concept in global economics, South Africa however needs to take a fresh perspective towards how its participation will directly contribute towards reducing inequality and delivering on goals of the 20 year National Development Plan. The need to reduce inequality, unemployment and poverty through employing an inclusive value creation approach must consistently feature in discussions if the country is to imagine any type of sustainability from its participation, beyond narrow economic gains.

A focus on local level implementation to tackling the triple threat has since been emphasized by the post-apartheid government. It would however be unfeasible to suggest that even the strongest of local municipalities would be able to address the triple threat by itself.

It is time to unleash the power of artificial intelligence to drive socio-economic development and maximize on FDI.

Ensuring Socio-Economic Benefits

In an effort to ensure that the private sector contributes towards broad based socio-economic development, B-BBEE codes of good practice were drafted, implemented and further amended. In response to ensuring equitable trickle-down effect from FDI within the auspice of the BRICS partnerships the B-BBEE code becomes increasingly more relevant. With the B-BBEE framework a relatively untapped lever has been Equity Equivalent. Equity Equivalent as defined by the Department of Trade and Industry as a public or private scheme or programme that promotes the socio-economic advancement or development within the South African economy.

Notwithstanding the other elements of the B-BBEE scorecard which also seek to create a more equitable and just economy, the Equity Equivalent element stands out in the context of BRICS related investment and cooperation, because the legislation makes it possible for companies to invest without relinquishing equity.

Way Forward; Enslaving Artificial Intelligence

We need to place emphasis on the fourth industrial revolution and artificial intelligence as a catalyst for developing a more equitable society. To do this emphasis must be placed on;

  • Committing stakeholders to tackling SDG 8;
  • Ensuring investment towards combating the triple threat benefits the broader question of sustainability; and
  • More importantly we must ensure that data collection is;
    • Localized;
    • Collected in a uniform manner;
    • Rich and nuanced.

If we can ensure that we collect data at local level and to a high level quality, the rest can be left to artificial intelligence and technologies influencing and driving big data management.

If we can ensure the above, we will be in a much better space with regards to translating FDI to grass-roots socio-economic development.