Why BRICS Rejected Algeria’s Membership Bid

Why BRICS Rejected Algeria's Membership Bid Why BRICS Rejected Algeria's Membership Bid
Why BRICS Rejected Algeria's Membership Bid.

Algeria, a North African country rich in oil and gas resources, recently suffered a blow to its ambitions as the BRICS group rejected its long-awaited bid to join the alliance.

The BRICS group, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, made a collective decision to welcome six new countries with higher growth economies. While Algeria expressed its desire to join the group and even submitted an official request along with a significant amount of $1.5 billion, it was ultimately rejected by the BRICS members.

Why BRICS Rejected Algeria's Membership Bid
Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Indian President Narenda Modi, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the BRICS summit, Aug. 22, 2023. (Government of South Africa)

One of the reasons behind this rejection lies in Algeria’s heavy dependence on oil and gas resources. The BRICS group consists of rapidly growing economies that have diversified their economic portfolios. Algeria, on the other hand, relies heavily on its oil and gas industry, which is susceptible to fluctuations in global market prices. The BRICS nations deemed the Algerian economy unworthy of joining their ranks, as it did not have the same level of diversification and potential for sustained economic growth.

It is worth noting that Algeria has been actively pursuing BRICS membership for over a year. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune openly courted Russia, one of the BRICS member states, in his efforts to gain access to the alliance. However, his approach seemed desperate and unconvincing. Tebboune’s attempts to evoke political reasons and play on anti-Western sentiment in his pursuit of BRICS membership only served to undermine Algeria’s credibility.

The BRICS group is focused on promoting cooperation and growth among emerging economies, and it is clear that Algeria’s economic profile did not align with this vision. BRICS nations are exploring new avenues for economic development beyond traditional sectors such as oil and gas. They are investing in technology, innovation, and sustainable industries to ensure long-term growth and stability. Algeria’s dependence on fossil fuels limited its ability to contribute to the group’s objectives and hindered its chances of gaining membership.

With a significant hold on 80% of the global oil reserves, the BRICS alliance solidifies its status as a formidable force on the international stage.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa delivered an impactful announcement at a summit in Johannesburg, revealing that six influential oil-producing nations will be welcomed into the BRICS alliance. This development further strengthens their position as a dominant player in the global energy landscape.

Why BRICS Rejected Algeria's Membership Bid
A person walks past the Sandton Convention Centre, which will host the upcoming BRICS Summit, in Johannesburg, South Africa August 19, 2023. REUTERS/James Oatway/File Photo

Tebboune, the president of Algeria, displayed a significant lack of awareness regarding his country’s economic and political importance when he confidently proclaimed to Chinese state TV that Algeria holds the same significance to Africa as China does to the world.

While it was predictable that Algeria would be denied membership, the president stubbornly chose to ignore reality and instead opted to deceive his people by promising imminent inclusion into the bloc.

He even attempted to entice BRICS members by expressing interest in continuing with their development bank, NDB. However, his aspirations were shattered by the harsh realities of Algeria’s feeble economy and stagnant growth rates.

Ethiopia’s inclusion caused some Algerian pro-regime commentators to raise eyebrows, failing to recognize the impressive growth experienced by Ethiopia’s economy over recent years – averaging 10% from 2004 to 2017.

With its economy heavily controlled by the state, an unappealing investment climate, and a poorly developed banking system, Algeria epitomises many of the challenges faced by African economies. Nowhere is the prevalence of resource dependency more evident than in Algiers, where economic growth is tied closely to gas prices and, to a lesser extent, oil prices.

The exclusion of Algeria from the list of new members demonstrates that economic influence is paramount for BRICS. The organisation has made it clear that it is unwilling to admit a military-led state like Algeria that lacks substantive contributions beyond outdated rhetoric.

While Algeria may have hoped that joining BRICS would open new economic opportunities, the rejection serves as a reality check. The country needs to address its over-reliance on oil and gas and diversify its economy. Strengthening partnerships with countries like China, as Algeria has expressed interest in doing, is a step in the right direction. However, it is crucial for Algeria to develop a comprehensive economic strategy that goes beyond its traditional industries to attract foreign investment and foster sustainable growth.

In conclusion, BRICS rejecting Algeria’s membership bid should serve as a wake-up call for the North African country. The group’s decision was primarily motivated by Algeria’s heavy dependence on oil and gas, making it an ill-fit for an alliance that prioritises economic diversification and growth. Moving forward, Algeria needs to reevaluate its economic strategy, reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, and focus on expanding its economic horizons to truly thrive in the global arena.

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