South Africa joins the BRICs

A map of South Africa, the newest member of BRICS.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Representatives from the world's fastest growing economies -- Brazil, Russia, India and China -- the BRIC countries as they're known -- announced they'll be meeting in China on April 14. And at that meeting, they're going to welcome a new member to the club change the acronym from BRIC to BRICS, with an 'S' -- for South Africa.

Reporter Gretchen Wilson is with us from Johannesburg, with more on that country's invitation. Good morning Gretchen.

GRETCHEN WILSON: Good morning Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: Will being included in this group -- the BRICS group -- be helpful to South Africa's economy? Or is it just a moment of recognition?

WILSON: Well this certainly is recognition. This puts Africa on the map among major emerging powers. And this is what President Jacob Zuma was lobbying so hard for last year, when he visited each of the BRIC countries to push for South Africa to be included in future meetings. So it's really an acknowledgment that Africa is the next great frontier of growth, even if South Africa's economy is still much, much smaller than, of course, China.

This morning I spoke with Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, head of the South African Institute of International Affairs. And here's what she had to say about the economic benefits:

ELIZABETH SIDIROPOULOS: The clear benefit, where we are at this particular point in our economic development is the extend to which we can leverage our membership in the BRICS for greater trade and investment opportunities.

So this relationship offers China, India, Brazil and Russia a gateway into Africa -- which as you know has massive natural resources, as well as 900 million consumers who want to join the global economy.

CHIOTAKIS: And how Gretchen is this being felt on the ground in South Africa?

WILSON: People here definitely feel that South Africa is the economic engine of Africa. And that's obvious whenever you look around and see how many migrants from other African countries come here to do business. It's a real thriving economic center for the continent.

That said, of course, there are still 25 percent of population that don't have jobs. So there's 25 percent unemployment rate. And for those people, they're rallying going to be waiting to see whether there are really any concrete jobs or development that really come from this relationship, before they get too excited.

CHIOTAKIS: Reporter Gretchen Wilson in Johannesburg. Gretchen thanks.

WILSON: Thank you Steve.

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