PRETORIA – Africa’s leading economic powerhouses, South Africa and Nigeria, are set to elevate bilateral and trade relations after President Cyril Ramaphosa landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja for a state visit with an entourage of at least 10 South African Cabinet ministers.
Ramaphosa’s two-day state visit to Nigeria, which concludes tomorrow, marks the first part of a four-nation West African visit which will include the republics of Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal.
The visit to Nigeria coincides with the 10th Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between Nigeria and South Africa. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Bi-National Commission.
“The BNC will provide an opportunity for South Africa and Nigeria to deepen relations across the spectrum of South Africa’s national priorities, including political co-operation and the strengthening of economic development co-operation,” said acting Presidency spokesperson Tyrone Seale.
“The 10th BNC is expected to review and follow up on decisions taken by the 9th session of the commission which, among others, included the establishment of an early warning mechanism, the re-establishment of the South Africa-Nigeria consular forum, an agreement on diplomatic consultations, and the reaffirmation of the historical and political relations between the two countries.”
South Africa and Nigeria are also committed to regular consultations on bilateral issues, and continental and global issues of mutual concern.
Seale said during the Bi-National Commission, a number of memoranda of understanding/agreement will be signed.
“South Africa and Nigeria have strong historical ties dating back to the days of the struggle against apartheid and colonialism. In March 2016, the BNC was elevated from the deputy/vice president level to be presided over by the heads of State, which signifies the strategic importance attached to the bilateral relations and co-operation between the two countries,” said Seale.
Ramaphosa is accompanied by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise; Minister of Police Bheki Cele; Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola; Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubelele.
Also in the delegation is, Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Maite Nkoana Mashabane; Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe; Minister of Health Joe Phaahla; Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel; Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, and deputy minister of state security Zizi Kodwa.
The Presidency earlier said the four-nation West African tour, which concludes on December 7, serves to reinforce South Africa’s bilateral relations with the countries concerned and to strengthen partnerships directed at African development and co-operation in multilateral forums.
“During this visit, South Africa and the partner states will explore ways to leverage the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area for mutual benefit and with greater support for businesses conducting intra-African trade and investment,” Seale said.
From Nigeria, Ramaphosa and his entourage will visit the Côte d'Ivoire on Thursday and Friday, where he will be hosted on a state visit at the invitation of President Alassane Dramane Ouattara.