Bridging the Atlantic is a descriptive study about Brazil’s involvement with counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa over the last decade through knowledge exchange, trade, and investments. The objective of the study is to understand these relations better with the intent to forge concrete and mutually beneficial partnerships between Brazil and Sub-Saharan Africa. Two elements explain the focus on the last decade. First, although Brazil and Sub-Saharan Africa have interacted with one another for at least 200 years (chapter 2), only in the last decade was a more robust engagement built, through stronger partnerships and long-term projects. Second, neither in Brazil nor Africa was there a practice of collecting, organizing, and analyzing data on early partnerships, a serious obstacle to obtaining reliable information.
Brazil and Sub-Saharan Africa are natural partners, with at one point a shared geography and later a shared history. About 200 million years ago, Africa and Brazil were parts of the landmass of Gondwana (figure ES.1). Between the sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the transatlantic slave trade united the two regions until slavery’s abolition. Now, the two areas are reestablishing connections that will affect each other’s prosperity and development in major ways. This renewed engagement reflects new, positive realities in the evolution of development cooperation; Africa’s rapid growth in recent years; and Brazil’s rise as a global economic power interested in intensifying its ties—cultural and commercial—with Africa.
The international economy is going through great changes. Developed economies— Japan, the European Union, and the United States—face a reduction in economic dynamism—for different reasons. Developing countries—led by China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, South Africa, and Russia—have growth accelerating, with prospects of further expansions in income, domestic employment, and investment between the main emerging economies. In recent years, there has also been a revival on the African continent, albeit patchy. The International Monetary Fund estimates that the economies of Sub- Saharan Africa, having grown 5.4 percent in 2010, will expand 5.2 percent in 2011 and 5.8 percent in 2012. The Middle East and North Africa, having grown 4.4 percent in 2010, should expand 4 percent in 2011 and 3.6 percent in 2012.
In this reconfiguration of the global economy, Brazil has promoted a policy of diversification of its international integration, engaging with developing countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. The former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, made 12 trips to Africa, visiting 21 countries. In the opposite direction, Brazil received 47 visits of African kings, presidents, and prime ministers from 27 nations. Brazil’s diversification policy remains the mandate of President Rousseff. In her first year in office, she visited Angola, Mozambique, and South Africa. The government also plans to design a special strategy for closer ties with the African continent to facilitate exports of goods and services (mostly engineering), by creating new mechanisms to guarantee credit lines (a commodity account, for example, to facilitate payments). As Bridging the Atlantic: Brazil and Sub- Saharan Africa, South–South Partnering for Growth shows, trade with Africa grew slowly between 2003 and 2008, and then fell between 2009 and 2010, with the worsening of the global economic crisis and the aggressive actions of the Asian countries in the region.
President Rousseff also stresses the importance of Brazilians leaving “a legacy to Africa” in the form of technology transfer, manpower training, and social programs. Brazilian cooperation for development involves humanitarian aid and bilateral or multilateral interventions. Brazilian institutions act as partners in training to develop and strengthen institutions. It is thus encouraged by political solidarity, historical and cultural affinities, economic and political interests, and the knowledge produced by exchange and experimentation through partnerships. The portfolio of Brazilian cooperation projects in Africa covers agriculture, health, education, training, e-government, public administration, environment, information technology, urban development, sanitation, biofuels, air transport, tourism, justice, culture, human rights, and sports.
World Bank. Studies and International Political and Economic Relations (IPEA)