Emma Okonji in Johannesburg, South Africa
President Bola Tinubu will meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa in November for a business-to-business interaction that will further strengthen the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa.
The meeting is under the auspices of the Bi-National Commission formed in 1999, to strengthen the trade relationship between Nigeria and South Africa.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Muhammad Haruna Manta, disclosed this yesterday to the second MTN Media Innovation Programme (MIP-2) fellows from Nigeria who are currently in South Africa, on a training programme, sponsored by MTN Nigeria, in collaboration with Pan Atlantic University (PAU), Lagos.
Manta said President Tinubu would discuss business matters as they affect both countries, including visa permits for Nigerians travelling to South Africa.
According to him, the Nigeria-South Africa relationship was cordial under the leadership of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, which he said, led to the formation of the Bi-National Commission between both countries in 1999.
He however said the relationship started losing bond years after both leaders left the stage as presidents, leading to the relocation of many South African businesses in Nigeria, back to South Africa.
The strained relationship between both countries, according to him, is currently affecting Nigerians who are regularly denied visas to travel to South Africa.
Asked if e-Visa would be discussed at the meeting, in a manner that would allow Nigerians to get visa-on-arrival in South Africa, Manta answered in affirmative, explaining that several other issues, including trade relationships and cross-border financial transactions, would be addressed at that meeting.
Confirming the November Bi-National Commission meeting, the Deputy Minister, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Republic of South Africa, Mashego Dlamini, said the meeting would be an avenue for both the Nigeria and South Africa presidents to discuss bi-lateral trade relationship and enter into some agreements that will further strengthen the relationship between both countries.
She further said the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, would also be looked into, to enable small businesses to thrive in Africa.
“South Africa values the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and South Africa, and we are committed to building relations and strengthening cooperation with African countries and other countries of the world. We consider African countries as strategic in developing the African continent for several reasons.
For us, Nigeria is a strategic partner in pursuing mutually beneficial cooperation and development of the African continent. Africa, as a continent, suffers when the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa is not balanced. One of the key pillars of South Africa’s foreign policy is the consolidation and implementation of the African agenda. This means that South Africa will continue to support regional integration, and intra-Africa trade and support people-to-people progression, in 2015, the African Union adopted the African Agenda 2063, which intends to build Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values, and ethics and respect for religious diversities,” Dlamini explained.
She advised African journalists to support the African agenda in their reports for peace, security, and unity on the African continent.