South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday received Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari for a 3-day state visit in the country. The two leaders are expected to discuss matters of political stability, trade cooperation between the two countries, and how they can boost economic ties. The emerging issue of xenophobic violence will also be put on the table to find a permanent solution to the problem.
South Africa and Nigeria have been in good collaboration for years during the era of Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. Both were former presidents of the respective countries. In the early 2000s, the two former leaders worked hard together to take the lead in continental politics. However, a dispute ensued between MTN, a telecom company, and Nigerian authorities. Today, the disagreements in the telecoms company have been resolved, and in May, MTN floated its shares to the stock exchange of Nigeria.
This state-visit is a special one since the last state-visit of a Nigerian leader to SA happened in 2013. The two leaders meet amid xenophobic violence in SA. This has made the citizens of both countries have mixed reactions regarding the purpose of the visit. However, the visit could not be postponed since it was planned way before the violence started in early September.
The xenophobic violence started when the SA residents’ bean was rising against foreign-owned properties. The Nigerians who have businesses in South Africa were not exempted from this destruction. As a way of revenging, business stores owned by South Africans in Nigeria had to be closed to avoid damages by the Nigerian residents. They had sworn to avenge for their colleagues in South Africa who were experiencing xenophobic violence.
Mohammad Buhari is set to address the Nigerians in South Africa during this state-visit so that they can air out their issues. During the town hall meeting, Buhari will assure the Nigerians of the government’s protection. He will also later discuss with the SA president Ramaphosa on how they can compensate the Nigerian victims whose property was destroyed by the demonstrators. However, Nigerians hope that this request will be granted since most of the term, both sides as “bad management.”
The main aim of this visit is to chart a path on how the two major economies of South Africa can boost their economic productivity. Thus, Buhari and Ramaphosa will chair a business meeting with South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission in efforts to promote business growth in the two countries. In particular, Buhari wants to skyrocket Nigeria’s economic growth during his tenure. He plans to diversify the sources of revenue. Gone are the days when oil was the only significant source of income in Nigeria. Buhari aims to integrate agriculture and mining sectors with the help of South Africa, to be substantial earners of revenue in Nigeria.
Despite the Africa Free Trade agreement that Nigeria signed in July, Buhari still restricts food imports and blocks the flow of goods from their neighbors Benin and Niger. Perhaps Buhari wants to safeguard the trade activities with South Africa to improve the bilateral ties. However, some citizens claim that a mere state-visit will not bolster trade activities. Instead, commitment to building good relations between the two countries goes a long way.