Jacob Zuma Hopes for Deeper Ties After Trip to Nigeria

Oche Daniel

President Jacob Zuma arrived back in South Africa on Wednesday after he concluded his two-day state visit to Nigeria with an agreement to formalise the South Africa-Nigeria Business Council, the South African Presidency said.

“The president said the agreement reached to formalise the South Africa-Nigeria Business Council will assist in managing and advancing the economic relations between the two countries,” said the Presidency late on Wednesday.

Zuma said the state visit to Nigeria has provided “hope that Nigeria and South Africa are ready to work together more than ever before, in the promotion of prosperity, good governance, peace and security and a better life for the people of the two countries”.

The Presidency said Zuma, who undertook the two-day visit on Tuesday at the invitation of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, arrived back in Pretoria on Wednesday evening.

The visit signified the joint commitment of the two governments to strengthen existing bilateral political, economic and social ties.

“We view this state visit as being truly significant as it has taken relations between our two countries to a much higher level. The visit has sought to further deepen the historic relations between South Africa and Nigeria, which were forged during the struggle for liberation in our country,” said Zuma.

Zuma and Buhari held discussions, and the president also addressed the joint sitting of the Nigerian Parliament which is a rare honour in that country. The last visiting head of state to address the Nigerian Parliament was the former US President Bill Clinton in 2000.

Zuma also addressed the South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum to boost economic relations between the two countries.

“We held very productive discussions yesterday (Tuesday) between the two governments. The relations between the two countries are managed through a Binational Commission,” said Zuma.

“We have taken an important decision to elevate the commission to a Head of State level. The South Africa-Nigeria Binational Commission will thus be chaired by President Buhari and myself and we will take full responsibility for managing relations between the two leading economies on the African continent.

He said in his discussions with Buhari on Tuesday “we noted with satisfaction the ever growing co-operation in many sectors including trade and investment; defence and security; immigration matters; energy; mineral resources, to mention but a few”.

Zuma said the agreement reached to formalise the South Africa-Nigeria Business Council will assist in managing and advancing the economic relations between the two countries.

“South Africa is optimistic about the further growth of economic ties between the two countries. Nigeria has opened up its economy to South African companies in various sectors such as engineering, telecommunications, construction, aviation, media, hospitality, banking, hospitality, entertainment, property, retail, and oil and gas exploration services,” said Zuma.

“We welcome this significant development. We would like to see the numbers of Nigerian investments in South Africa also increasing, as we promote two-way trade between these two nations.”

The president challenged the business community from both countries to ensure that they are not left behind in the fourth industrial revolution.

He added that in one or two decades to come, Africa must ensure “that the abundant mineral wealth in our continent which is making other continents richer, must improve the lives of Africans. It must help us defeat poverty, disease and helplessness amongst our peoples”.

Zuma said that Nigeria and South Africa must work in unity in bringing about peace and stability in the continent, through providing maximum support to the peace and security efforts of the African Union.

“Our people need peace. They need development, and they need to see their lives getting better every day,” said Zuma.

As he concluded the visit, the president emphasised that South Africa and Nigeria must deepen co-operation.

“It is when these two giants stand up and walk, that the rest of Africa will stand up and walk,” said President Zuma.

Zuma was accompanied by the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies; Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba; Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson; Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane; and Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo.


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