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Ethiopia and Kenya contemplating BRICS membership

In recent years, there has been a visible strategic shift in the global landscape, with developing nations like Ethiopia and Kenya contemplating membership in the BRICS alliance.

The BRICS alliance, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, has emerged as a powerful coalition with significant economic influence. As these East African countries weigh their options, they must carefully consider where their best interests lie: aligning with BRICS or maintaining ties with the West through tough negotiations.

The rise of China, India, Brazil, South Africa, and other developing nations has posed challenges for the Western powers in their foreign policy endeavours. The shifting global power dynamics have forced the West to adapt and reassess their methods of engagement. Moreover, differing political systems and ideologies have further complicated the relationship between the West and many developing nations. Historical legacies and colonialism have left a deep impact on these countries, shaping their perceptions and priorities. Economic interests and resource competition have also played a significant role in altering the global power equilibrium. Finally, geopolitical competition has intensified as the global stage becomes more multipolar.

One unforeseen consequence of this changing landscape has been the opposition of West African nations. Countries like Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Guinea-Bissau have experienced coups and overthrown their leaders. These uprisings stem from the dissatisfaction with the West’s exploitation of their abundant resources, which has failed to uplift their populations from poverty. The West’s interests in the region have suffered a significant blow as a result.

Ethiopia and Kenya contemplating BRICS membership
President William Ruto arrives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for bilateral talks with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the launch of Safaricom Ethiopia.

For countries like Ethiopia and Kenya, joining BRICS could offer a range of potential benefits. Enhanced trade partnerships with BRICS nations could open up new markets and opportunities for economic growth. Infrastructure development, a key focus of the BRICS alliance, is crucial for these countries to improve connectivity within and outside their borders. Technological cooperation with BRICS nations could help enhance their technological capabilities and drive innovation. Additionally, gaining access to alternative sources of financing from BRICS institutions such as the New Development Bank could provide much-needed capital for infrastructure projects and economic development.

Furthermore, being part of the BRICS alliance provides a platform for Ethiopia and Kenya to exert greater influence on the global stage. As emerging economies, these countries have the potential to reshape the existing world order. By working collaboratively with BRICS nations, they can promote their interests and stand up for their rights and values on international issues.

However, joining BRICS would require careful consideration for Somalia. The West has traditionally been a dominant force in global politics and economics, offering established political, economic, and military alliances. This has provided significant support to Somalia in various sectors, including development aid, security assistance, and diplomatic ties that align with Western values such as democracy, human rights, and good governance.

Yet, joining BRICS could present Somalia with alternative opportunities. BRICS nations have shown a growing interest in Africa, investing heavily in infrastructure projects, trade agreements, and development initiatives. This could open up new avenues for economic growth, increased regional integration, and expanded diplomatic ties for Somalia. Moreover, BRICS nations often emphasise a non-interference approach to international relations, which may align with Somalia’s desire for sovereignty and self-determination.

Instead of seeing the choice between BRICS and the West as an either/or situation, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia have the opportunity to find a nuanced approach that balances both sides. This would involve pursuing a comprehensive foreign policy that allows them to maintain strong ties with the West while also exploring potential benefits from their engagement with BRICS. By diversifying their partnerships and leveraging the strengths of both alliances, these nations can effectively pursue their national interests.

Ethiopia and Kenya contemplating BRICS membership
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held bilateral discussion with Kenyan President William Ruto in Somalia.

The active consideration of joining BRICS by Ethiopia and Kenya has significant implications for Somalia and other countries in the region. The decision of aligning with BRICS or maintaining ties with the West is a complex matter that requires careful deliberation. It’s important to consider the potential benefits and risks associated with each option.

Finding a balance between the two alliances can offer countries access to advantages provided by BRICS while still benefiting from valuable partnerships and support from Western nations. Ultimately, this decision should be guided by considerations such as national interests, economic development, and regional stability.

In light of these developments, Ethiopia and Kenya find themselves at a crossroads. Both countries have emerged as influential players in the East African region and have witnessed substantial economic growth in recent years. Their potential inclusion in BRICS offers a variety of economic opportunities and geopolitical benefits.

BRICS membership would enable Ethiopia and Kenya to harness the collective strength of this alliance, access new markets, and attract investments from its members. Furthermore, it would allow them to diversify their diplomatic relations and lessen their dependence on traditional Western powers.


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