International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, has described Nigeria as a key long-term market for South African investments.
Pandor was speaking during the mid-term review of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between the two countries.
The Minister hosted her Nigerian counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama, in Pretoria, on Wednesday.
The South Africa-Nigeria BNC, launched in 1999, is the formal mechanism through which the two countries conduct their bilateral relations.
Pandor said Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020 and the National Development Plan 2021-2025 present massive investment opportunities for both nations.
South Africa’s investment in Nigeria, according to the Minister, is made up of about 120 companies with a total investment of R4.398 billion capital expenditure.
This also provides significant employment opportunities for Nigerian people during the period under review.
“However, South African companies have recently apparently found it difficult to operate in Nigeria. Some of the reported challenges include regulatory issues and non-tariff barriers,” he said.
According to Pandor, this has resulted in South African companies operating in Nigeria significantly dropping from 350 to 120 with the recent departures of the likes of Game, Shoprite and Sasol.
“Given these statistics it was correct that our Heads of State and Government decided during the 10th BNC that a mid-term review of the implementation of the decisions of the BNC at the level of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs be convened, hopefully, to address challenges and encourage greater action on agreed goals.”
She believes that the platform will assist in assessing progress with the implementation of the decisions of the 10th BNC – identify weaknesses in implementation, and take measures to strengthen implementation.
“It will also assist us to ensure the operationalisation of the mechanisms established by the Heads of State and Government to address the challenges faced by our people and business.”
The Minister saluted Onyeama for his commitment to deepen the bilateral cooperation by honouring the invitation to come to South Africa.
“South Africa regards the relationship with Nigeria as strategic in the context of bilateral relations, the West Africa region, Africa We Want, and the promotion of a rules-based international system of governance.”
Meanwhile, the Minister said she was pleased by the steady increase in investments in the South African economy by Nigerian companies, including the Dangote Group and the packaging company, GZI Industries Limited.
“The recent Access Bank investment is the third largest investment in South Africa,” she added.
Pandor also touched on World AIDS Day commemorated on 1 December, which she said was a reminder that HIV is still a reality.
The Minister has called on the redoubling commitment to turn around the HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics.
She also commended the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for choosing to settle their differences through dialogue and diplomacy during the African Union-facilitated talks hosted in South Africa.
“This is a positive step towards the Agenda 2063 aspiration of a peaceful and secure Africa and the goal of silencing the guns,” she said.
She told the guests that this outcome would not be possible without the effort of the facilitation team led by the Nigerian Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, assisted by the Former President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and the Former Deputy President of South Africa Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
“This is a clear demonstration of the immense positive impact a strong collaboration between South Africa and Nigeria has on Africa We Want.”