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Zuma jets into Abuja for talks

16 April 2013, 09:01

Abuja - South African president Jacob Zuma has arrived in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on a one-day official visit aimed at intensifying bilateral and political cooperation between the two countries.

Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan is expected, among other issues to raise critical imbalance in trade between Nigeria and South Africa.

Contentious issues include South Africa’s domination of the Nigerian service sector whereas the West African nation only sells oil to South Africa.

Abuja based political analyst, Abimbola Obi, said the relations between South Africa and Nigeria could be better given Nigeria’s unwavering support for the liberation of the continental powerhouse.

"Politically, Nigeria and South Africa are very good partners, but economically and socially, South Africans look down upon Nigerians. South Africa is a bully and pushy when it comes to economic matters, probably for creating jobs for its people, but closing other Africans out of their market.

"Still fresh in our minds is the incident whereby our business people were humiliated at the Oliver Tambo International in 2012 when deported upon arrival," said Obi.

South Africa deported 125 Nigerians, whom the country accused of entering the country with fake yellow-fever vaccination certificates arguing that such actions by Pretoria always strain ties between two economic giants for Africa.

Obi said President Jonathan should speak on behalf of the more than 165 million Nigerians and raise the issue of trade imbalance between the two countries, which heavily favours South Africa.

"Apart from selling oil to South Africa, what else does Nigeria trade in that southern African nation? There is completely nothing! This must be quickly rectified in order to balance the scales.

"If one looks at the retail, manufacturing, information communication technology, mining, aviation, construction, tourism, finance and banking, it is South Africa in control...Where is Nigeria fitting in this bilateral," asked Obi.

South African firms including MTN mobile operator, Shoprite, Woolworth, Checkers and Spar dominate the Nigerian market.

However, Aghahowa Muhammad, an economist agreed that South Africa's attitude towards other Africans was "foreign" and "hostile", but highlighted that the onus was on Nigeria to rebrand itself as an economic powerhouse and to start investing in Africa.

"For some strange reasons, South Africans are hostile to fellow African brothers and sisters due to their long time of suffering under the Apartheid oppression, but now is the time to let go of the past and quickly move into the future - which is globalisation.

"Our people (Nigerians) are all over Africa in search of economic opportunities, and they should prove that they are not backyard 'spaza' business people.

"It's high time our government should heavily invest in communication, manufacturing, mining and skills development in order to compete with South Africa. Presently we can't compete with South Africa due to a number of clear reasons," Muhammad said.

Other key issues expected to dominant the discussion include the need to consult each other on regional, political, economic and other critical issues affecting the African Union (AU) as well as safeguarding Africa's interests at international level.

- CAJ News


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