Vice President Namadi Sambo
By Ahamefula Ogbu
Nigeria and South Africa Wednesday, at the 8th session of the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission, agreed to cooperate and remove all impediments against free access to do business in both countries.
The economic cooperation deal was ratified at a meeting between Vice-President Namadi Sambo and his South African counterpart, Kgalema Motlanthe.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and agreement on relaxing immigration regulations between the two countries was also signed at the meeting.
Both leaders also agreed to explore more trade opportunities between the two countries and ensure that business between them were stepped up while Nigerians should be given free access and business opportunities in South Africa with due respect to their human rights.
Other agreements reached at the meeting included the strengthening of existing deals and cooperation on technical matters, mutual assistance on customs and administration of both countries.
The countries regretted that quasi disagreements had in the past dwindled the developmental opportunities which they would have benefited from.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Sambo assured Nigerians that their interest and welfare would be protected, while Nigeria would no longer tolerate the maltreatment of her citizens who are law abiding and stressed the need for South Africa to open its borders the way Nigeria had done in giving business opportunities to South Africans.
“Our bilateral relations have grown remarkably since the elevation of our strategic partnership in the Bi-National Commission more than a decade ago. I believe that this meeting will witness the signing of additional memorandum of understanding and other agreements that will further open doors for more enduring and meaningful cooperation between our two countries.
“As we move forward in our joint effort towards enhancing our bilateral relations, there is still room for improvement. We can explore new and deepening existing areas of cooperation to include collaboration in the fight against emerging security challenges like international terrorism, cybercrime and even human trafficking.
“We cannot afford to relent considering the fast pace at which the world is moving. The high hopes and aspirations of other African countries in Nigeria and South Africa as catalysts for growth and sustainable development of the continent. Nigeria welcomes more South African investors in infrastructure development, mining and solid minerals, value chain in agriculture, oil and gas and energy, as part of our efforts towards the achievement of our objective of vision 20:2020 the medium-term blue print for our national development,” he said.
He said that there were areas like power and infrastructure where both countries would benefit from each other, including trade among themselves, adding that investing within the African economy was a way of building financial strengths that could withstand global economic shocks from negatively affecting the continent.
According to him, “African nations must do business with each other as well as invest in each other's economy. I believe that an increase in trade and investment between our two countries will provide the necessary tonic that can fuel the long term growth of our continent. In this regards, our counties must both work tirelessly to drive the early realisation of African integration agenda. In our efforts to create a borderless Africa, we must together and move this our relationship beyond government and institution. We must encourage private sector participation, people-to-people interaction as a conscious effort to create better understanding and awareness among our people about our inextricable future and ourselves as Africans with the rich cultural history.”