Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari. File photo: AP Photo/Ben Curtis.

JOHANNESBURG - Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari will this week travel to South Africa for a State visit, which will also mark the 20th anniversary of the Bi-National Commission (BNC).

Despite recent attacks on Foreign nationals in South Africa, both countries insist they share sound relations that were formally established in 1994. 

The relations were established immediately after South Africa’s first democratic elections. 

Last month hundreds of Nigerians were evacuated from South Africa as a result of the anti-foreigner violence that included the looting and burning of their shops. 

Buhari has since met South Africa's special envoy, Jeff Radebe, in Abuja. Radebe conveyed an apology on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Formal relations between Nigeria and South Africa have been conducted through a BNC, established in 1999 as a structured bilateral mechanism to provide for political, economic, social, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation.

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa will host Buhari on Thursday, 3 October 2019, said the Presidency in a statement on Tuesday. 

Over the years the BNC recorded remarkable achievements, and provides a useful platform for enhancing bilateral relations, notably on the economic front.

There are more than 30 agreements which have been negotiated and signed since the establishment of the BNC, and which are at different stages of implementation. 

These include the Bilateral Trade Agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Economic and Technical Cooperation and an Agreement on Cooperation in Defence.

There is a significant footprint of South African companies currently doing business in Nigeria in various sectors, mainly in telecommunications, banking, retail, hospitality, mining, tourism, agriculture and construction and tourism. 

The total value of trade between South Africa and Nigeria amounted to R50.8 billion in 2018. The major South African products exported to Nigeria include machinery and mechanical appliances; mineral products, and chemical Products.

Major products imported from Nigeria include mineral products, products of the chemicals or allied industries, base metals & articles, plastics and articles (rubber), vegetable products, machinery & mechanical appliances, etc.

One of the main features of the visit will be a Joint Business Forum with a focus on trade and investment.

"The State Visit will not only provide an opportunity for the two Presidents to strengthen and deepen political, economic, social and cultural relations between the two countries, but will also create space for deliberations on issues of mutual interest and concern pertaining to the continent and global governance," said the SA Presidency.

Ramaphosa will be supported by several senior Cabinet ministers of departments that include International Relations and Cooperation; Defence and Military Veterans; Minerals and Energy; Trade and Industry; Police; State Security and Home Affairs.

African News Agency (ANA)