South Africa's BRICS membership will assist the country and the continent address its socio economic challenges, Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom said.
"It is important that all of us understand the importance of this group and why South Africa agreed to join," Hanekom said on Saturday in Johannesburg.
He was speaking during the Gauteng leg of a road show to educate South Africans about the importance of the summit and the country's BRICS membership. BRICS is an acronym for the grouping of the world's leading emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The event was attended by among others, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, the Director General in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Jerry Matjila, and various provincial MECs.
South Africa officially became a member of BRICS on December 24, 2010, after being formally invited by the BRIC countries to join the group. The country will host the fifth BRICS Summit in March at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC). This will complete the first cycle of BRICS summits.
Hanekom said South Africa's membership will not only speed up development in Africa's largest economy but also open up new markets for the continents.
The BRICS grouping accounts for 43% of the global population, which is more than a quarter of the land in the world. "This makes them an incredibly powerful economic force that is taking the world by storm," Hanekom said.
The countries' combined nominal Gross Domestic Product is estimated at US$13.7trn and between 20% and 25% of the global GDP.
Hanekom, who is a member of the ministerial committee on BRICS, emphasised that Gauteng's role in South Africa's membership of the bloc will be crucial.
"As the province of Gauteng and given the strength of our economy, we are in a better position to seize the opportunities availed by our BRICS membership."
Matjila, said public education about BRICS was aimed at making South Africans understand the rationale of joining the bloc.
"We took a decision that we want to take the people along with us in this BRICS movement. We joined BRICS because we wanted to interconnect the markets after interrogating the global shift in economies," Matjila said.
He noted that South Africa's budget grew from just over R200m in 1994 to over a R1trn in 2012 because the country explored new markets of the years.
"Where do you think that money came from, we want to build new infrastructure and where do you think the money will come from? We have to explore new markets and BRICS is giving us that platform," Matjila said.