Rethinking Geopolitical Risks : Africa, The Rise of the Global South & the US-China Rivalry

Wednesday, 30 October, 2024 - 12:00

Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research and the Innovation Foundation for Democracy

On October 30 and 31, 2024, WISER and the Foundation will be hosting a public forum in Johannesburg, South Africa to consider the problems confronting African peoples and their institutions in the face of renewed geopolitical conflicts.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, the outbreak of war in the Middle East and intensifying strategic competition between China and the United States has led to enormous changes in the architecture of the international system. Concurrent with these developments is the rise of the Global South, which, while once peripheral to international affairs, is now an indispensable part of the global economy, a lynchpin in critical supply chains, and vital to the geopolitical balance of power. This forum will be centered on examining how nations across the Global South – from India and Brazil to South Africa and Egypt – are recalibrating their political agendas in response to the return of great power competition between the US, China and Russia, and the breakdown of the post-Cold War international system. The comparatively veiled geopolitical contest within the Global South block between China and India, and their respective tools of soft power, is one important part of this problem.  Another is the growing interest by African states and their militaries in exploiting the conflicts between the BRICS groups and the old imperial powers of the western alliance to shake off the constraints of democratic governance. This is a problem that has been especially marked by the ongoing exploits of Russian proxies in the Sahel.

Despite representing the majority of the world’s population and accounting for an increasing amount of global GDP, these nations are often sidelined during critical policy making initiatives spearheaded by their Western counterparts. Moreover, the groundbreaking expansion of BRICS to include six new countries – Iran, Ethiopia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, and Egypt – stands as a pivotal change that could lead to the restructuring of global trade, the flow of energy investments, and makeup of critical supply chains. Given these realities, leaders in capitals around the world from Washington and Brussels to Beijing need to develop a deeper understanding of the concerns and challenges that these nations face and modify their policy objectives accordingly.

The forum will aim to bring together leading academics, the public and policy practitioners to explore these issues. 

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