Africa: In search of the Brazilian economic miracle

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África: en busca del milagro económico brasileño

During the second half of 2011, relations between Africa and Brazil continued to flourish as part of the historic trade, cultural and economic rapprochement of the two economic juggernauts. Specifically, African governments asked for more financing from the South American country to implement development projects, according to Brazil’s National Bank of Economic and Social Development (BNDES).

Key reasons for intensifying this relationship include the fact that Brazil is now the world’s sixth-largest economy (after China, the United States, France, Germany and Japan) and that it has become a major player in South-South cooperation.


Readjustments in trade flows provoked by the economic crisis in countries of the northern hemisphere also contribute to this situation. Linked in the past by colonial trade, the modern experiences of Brazil in Africa – in agriculture, social protection, vocational training and alternative sources of renewable energy – have helped strengthen the development of the region with the highest poverty rates in the world, and at the same time have created a favorable climate for private business and investment. T

his should come as no surprise. As I mentioned in my previous blog, relations between Brazil and Africa are taking giant steps forward thanks to the revitalization of a series of historical, cultural and natural affinities that join the two –a reality we highlighted in the report Bridging the Atlantic. Brazil and Sub-Saharan Africa, South-South Partnering for Growth.

Moreover, the results of a study to be published this year on the viability of ethanol production in some African countries will create opportunities for joint investments by Brazilian and African companies.

Mining and infrastructure investments have already grown substantially. A successful case of cooperation is the agreement recently signed between Brazil’s Vale Mining Company and the government of Malawi for the construction of a railway line through the Nacala Corridor, stretching from Mozambique to Zambia and crossing Malawi.

The building of this railroad – to transport minerals and commodities – will create jobs for the local population and improve their standard of living given that social development projects will be implemented throughout the corridor. Vale is expected to invest a total of US$ 4.4 billion in this project.

Relations between Africa and Brazil are not limited to economic investments, however. They also involve an exchange of knowledge and practical experiences in areas crucial for development and growth.

The “structuring projects” in agriculture and social protection in African countries are a good example. The recent agreement signed between the governments of Mozambique and Brazil led to an additional investment to support the project Agricultural Research and Technological Innovation Platform of Mozambique, which seeks to hasten technology transfer to improve agricultural production.

This new agreement involves an estimated investment of US$13 million over the next three years. The project is implemented by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA) and the Agricultural Research Institute of Mozambique. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will also help finance this new phase of the initiative.

New education projects, such as the recently established Federal University for Luso-Afro-Brazilian Integration in Ceará State, will contribute to creating mechanisms for knowledge exchange. This year, 300 African students will have the chance to pursue graduate studies at the university.

These efforts generate spaces for discussing the challenges facing both African countries and Brazil and offer the opportunity to jointly develop solutions, particularly in the regions with similar social, geographic and climatic conditions.


Susana Carrillo

Senior Specialist at the Capacity Development and Partnerships Unit in the Africa Region

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