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Vickers, Brendan  (2013) Africa and the rising powers: bargaining for the ‘marginalized many. International Affairs 89: 3 : 1-21.

The world economy is undergoing a relative shift in economic power, with the emergence of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) as the new sources of global economic growth, trade and investment.1 The ascendancy of these new powers has been accompanied by vast improvements in Africa’s economic prospects.

Over the past decade, Africa has gone from being the ‘hopeless continent’2 to a ‘rising star’3 and the next major growth pole in the world economy.4 Reflecting Africa’s growing significance in international relations, the rising powers of Brazil, China and India (as well as other emerging economies from Turkey to South Korea5) are vociferously courting the renascent continent. On the one hand, these rising powers hope to gain access to Africa’s abundant resources and growing markets in order to sustain their own rapid growth and economic performance. On the other hand, as Brazil, China and India negotiate with the established powers to gain greater status, power and influence at the high table of global governance,6 they require diplomatic support and backing for their leadership ambitions. As part of the non-western ‘rest’, African countries are able to provide the ‘followership’ that these rising powers seek and legitimize claims to greater power by securing for them the backing of large numbers. In sum, the relationship between Africa and the rising powers appears to be increasingly symbiotic, ‘one in which resource diplomacy, development assistance, seeking new markets and forging consensus around reforming the global order that would be more inclusive, equitable and multilateral in nature are points of interaction’.

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