SA, Nigeria commit to condusive business environment

4 October 2019

The governments of South Africa and Nigeria have committed to creating a conducive business environment that will make it easier for business to operate.

“We are aware of the challenges that sometimes arise in our respective countries, and have agreed to put in the necessary mechanisms to address these,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

Photo: President Cyril Ramaphosa and  President Buhari at the Union Buildings during the Nigeria State Visit to South Africa. (Jairus Mmutle/GCIS​)

Addressing the South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum in Midrand, President Cyril Ramaphosa said there’s a significant number of local companies conducting business in Nigeria.

Currently South African companies are operating in Nigeria’s telecommunications, banking, retail, hospitality, mining, tourism, agriculture and construction and tourism sectors.

To further strengthen their ties, South Africa and Nigeria have been working together on the establishment of a Sub-Saharan African Automotive Development Plan.

The plan recognises the important role the automotive sector can play in promoting industrial development, and aims to align both countries’ respective initiatives for maximum benefit.

“The initiative will be important not just to the automotive sector, but as a testing ground for a deeply collaborative approach to industrial development,” he said.

The President also spoke to the need for both countries’ to upgrade their electricity generation capacity, by expanding grid capacity and shifting to more sustainable sources of energy.

Collaborating on industry

On rail infrastructure, President Rampahosa urged South African and Nigerian firms to collaborate in the production of key components and work jointly on major development projects.

“The potential on offer through such partnerships is demonstrated by Transnet’s role in Nigeria’s Narrow Gauge Rail Project,” said the President of the project that is aimed at improving narrow gauge railway services in Nigeria.

It also aims to provide an efficient and reliable transport services.

South Africa’s state-owned freight and Rail Company, Transnet, has agreed to manufacture, supply and maintain 200 wagons while it will also refurbish and supply 10 locomotives for the first phase of the interim solution.

President Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of countries on the continent working together.

“As countries of Africa, we must recognise that we will only thrive if the continent thrives. We must recommit to a closer, stronger relationship, grounded in shared prosperity and a shared development destiny,” he said.

He said while the global economy slows, Africa is emerging as the next great growth market.

“To realise the opportunity of our demographic dividend, we will need to rapidly expand and diversify our industrial capacity.”

He urged countries on the continent to become leading producers of products demanded by the growing middle class as well as complex industrial products that are needed in core industries like mining.

The President said the development of regional value chains that allow for specialisation while fairly sharing the benefits of growth will allow the continent’s economies to grow.

South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, said South Africa and Nigeria need to work together to achieve the goals in the National Development Plan (NDP) as well as the African Economic Development and Integration Agenda, encapsulated in the Abuja Treaty.

Joint Ministerial Advisory Council

South Africa and Nigeria have agreed to the establishment of forums, the development of policy initiatives, the promotion of deeper cooperation and the establishment of a joint ministerial advisory council on industry trade and investment.

The council will include representatives of the private sector of both countries as well as government officials. The council is expected to meet twice a year, once it is inaugurated next year.

“We now need the business community to build on the foundations laid by the Heads of State,” Patel said.

The total value of trade between South Africa and Nigeria amounted to R50.8 billion in 2018.

President Ramaphosa hosted the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, who was on a two-day State Visit to South Africa.

This was the first incoming State Visit to be hosted by South Africa under the sixth administration.

South Africa and Nigeria share sound political, economic and social relations that were formally established in 1994, immediately after South Africa’s first democratic elections.

SA calls for increased intra-African trade

In preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the African continent to strategically position itself by developing its human capital and promoting intra-African trade.

“We have at our disposal an abundance of natural and human resources that can be developed and harnessed to put Africa on a path of sustainable economic development,” said President Ramaphosa.

Speaking at the State Banquet during the State Visit of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in Tshwane, President Ramaphosa said the continent must embrace and participate meaningfully in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

The continent, said the President, must develop its human capital capability while benefiting the continent’s natural resources.

President Ramaphosa said while the continent must support initiatives to attract foreign direct investment to its shores, more must be done to promote intra-Africa trade and investment.

“As South Africa, we firmly support the African Continental Free Trade Area and believe that through this important instrument, we can work together in accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market,” he said.

The President’s remarks come as the two nations work to strengthen their strategic bilateral relations.

“We further committed ourselves to working together to enhance close political, economic and social cooperation, in keeping with our mutual desire to establish a special relationship between the two countries,” said the President.

The State Visit coincided with the first session of the Bi-national Commission presided over at Heads of State level.

During the Commission, the two Presidents took note of the 32 signed agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), and committed themselves to ensuring that those which are in force are fully implemented. Those that are yet to come into force will be revived.

Both Presidents noted with great satisfaction the economic cooperation between the two Republics and welcomed steps to increase trade volumes as well as private sector investments.

The two leaders further welcomed the decision to establish a Joint Ministerial Advisory Council on Industry, Trade and Investment. The Council is expected to serve as a critical vehicle in facilitating and promoting private sector participation in the economies of both countries.

The inaugural meeting of the Council is expected to be held no later than April 2020 in Abuja. –