Opinion: Nigeria And South Africa Must Get The Relationship Right

June 16, 2015

Global and regional leaders deliberated on Africa’s economic future mostly through the lenses of its largest economies – Nigeria and South Africa — at the recently concluded World Economic Forum on Africa 2015, although Nigeria’s newly elected leaders were absent.

…what both countries must do – together – is work harder on a “bilateral chemistry” that is far from right. According to Foluso Phillips, chairman of the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce, both countries need to resolve their differences in order to sustain Africa’s growth trajectory.

The two countries share major economic ties, accounting for over $900 billion of the continent’s gross domestic product and receiving about 25 percent of the foreign direct investment into Africa every year.

Despite this captivating external investment narrative, cross-border trade between Nigeria and South Africa account for only about 1 percent of their combined economic value and this suggests a very low degree of economic openness and interaction within the continent.

More importantly, it represents a significant opportunity for synergising business, trade and investments within the drivers of Africa’s economic fortune.

…Success stories like MTN and Multichoice – South African companies with active presence in Nigeria – show how heavily invested and interlinked both countries can be if the relationship is right.

An MTN Group executive was recently quoted as saying, “We don’t see ourselves as a South African multinational, but as a Nigerian champion.”

In a recent presentation, economist Doyin Salami highlighted the chain investment effect of the entrance of MTN into Nigeria – opening the door for a massive retail expansion of South African brands in the Nigerian market.

What is clear is that Nigeria and South Africa must continue to turn the wheel for the progress of the African continent.

Source: AFK Insider

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