JOHANNESBURG: The 15th BRICS Summit, which involves member nations Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, is set to begin in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said during an address on Sunday: “Together, the members of BRICS … make up a quarter of the global economy, they account for a fifth of global trade, and are home to more than 40 percent of the world’s population.

“BRICS as a formation plays an important role in the world due to its economic power, market potential, political influence, and development cooperation.”

The summit, which takes place from Aug. 22-24, is expected to welcome more than 40 heads of state and international dignitaries.

The first BRICS meeting of foreign ministers was held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2006. The organization was known as BRIC before South Africa joined.

The first BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in June 2009, and one year later South Africa was invited to join BRICS and attended the third summit, in Sanya, China, in 2011.

BRICS is focused on three main pillars of cooperation: political and security, financial and economic, and cultural.

Dignitaries and heads of state were expected to arrive in Johannesburg on Monday.

The South African president revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping will be one of those arriving in South Africa, on his fourth state visit.

Ramaphosa said: “This BRICS Summit and the state visit by President Xi Jinping, as well as the many bilateral engagements we will have with President Lula da Silva of Brazil, Prime Minister Modi of India, and many other heads of state on the sidelines of the summit, have a bearing on our relationships with other countries and South Africa’s place in the world.”

An expansion of the membership of BRICS will be one of the topics of discussion.

Ramaphosa said that more than 20 countries had formally applied to join the organization and several others had expressed an interest in joining.

He said: “South Africa supports the expansion of the membership of BRICS. The value of BRICS extends beyond the interests of its current members.

“For its efforts to be more effective, BRICS needs to build partnerships with other countries that share its aspirations and perspectives.”

South Africa was named the chair of the grouping on Jan. 1, 2023. The main themes of the country’s presidency include tackling climate change and helping toward transformational changes across all sectors of the economy; educational and continuous skills development; emphasis on the African Continental Free Trade Area and investments in Africa; the strengthening of post-pandemic socio-economic recovery; and working toward Sustainable Development goals, while strengthening multilateralism.