Like Lexington, you’ve probably heard of the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The nickname was created in 2001 when Jim O’Neill, an economist and the future Chairman of Goldman Sachs, used it to describe the countries of the world that would drive future economic growth. He was right about the fact they would drive economic growth. According to The Economist, “The BRICS alone have been responsible for 55 percent of global growth since the end of 2009. Dragged down by debt and austerity, the 23 countries that make up the developed world contributed just 20 percent to that growth.”
You may have noticed The Economist capitalised the ‘S’ in BRICS. That’s because South Africa recently joined the team. It’s the smallest BRICS country with a population of just 50 million compared to more than 1 billion for both China and India. South Africa’s GDP isn’t all that impressive either. It ranks 28th in the world, according to The Guardian, while China ranks 2nd, Brazil 6th, Russia 9th, and India 10th. The statistical comparison begs the question: Why was South Africa added to the list of the world’s powerful emerging countries?
According to The Economist, geographic inequity was the driving force behind the new addition. The original BRICs did not include any countries in Africa which currently is the world’s fastest growing continent. Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth is averaging about 6 percent a year, a pace that is expected to remain constant for another decade. Over the decade ending in December 2012 Africa has seen:
- Foreign direct investment more than tripled to $46 billion
- A 30 percent increase in real income per person
- A 74 percent decline in HIV infections
- A 30 percent decline in malaria deaths
- Mobile communications grow: now there are three mobile phones for every four people
- A 10 percent increase in life expectancy
- Steeply falling infant mortality rates
- An increase in secondary school enrollment
Source: The Economist
Africa is changing so rapidly many believe the continent deserves to have a voice as an emerging region of the world. How to give it that voice? The solution was to add South Africa, the continent’s largest economy, to the BRICS.
Dimensional Fund Adviser include just under 9% of the DFA Emerging Markets fund in South Africa and have done so since the inception.