The Nigeria government and South African government on Thursday signed 32 agreements and memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) so as to foster relationships that promote trade and investment both countries.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday in Pretoria, South Africa, said Nigeria will continue to value its relationship with South Africa, which is the second largest economy in Africa.
He called on the South African government to open up its economy for more Nigerian businesses, while guaranteeing their safety.
He stressed the need for reciprocity in promoting trade and investments between both countries.
Relations between Nigeria and South Africa reached tipping point in August when xenophobic attacks affected dozens of Nigerians and their businesses, forcing the government to evacuate more than 300 people back home.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the 9th Bi-National Commission at the seat of government, Union Building, President Buhari said South African companies had enjoyed unfettered access to Nigerian market, and protection with enabling laws, urging the government to design policies that favour investments from Nigeria.
The President had co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the Bi-National Commission at the level of heads of state.
“We are pleased to inform you that our Government has made doing business in Nigeria easier through the Ease of Doing Business Initiative to open up more opportunities for investors in Nigeria.
“We call on the Government of South Africa to also take steps to ease the doing of business in the country, and open up its market space for Nigerian businessmen and women.
“In this context, we are gratified that a Nigeria-South Africa Business Forum has been organized in the frame work of this State visit,’’ the President said.
Speaking further he said, “We, in Nigeria, value the warm fraternal relations binding our two countries and cherish our Special Relationship. We consider South Africa an ally and a strategic partner.
“We need to implement those that have come into force, as well as to expedite necessary action to ratify the seven outstanding agreements that have not yet been brought into force.
“I welcome the robust Defence Cooperation between Nigeria and South Africa, and call for more support and solidarity with us in our fight against terrorism and violent extremism. We also welcome the increased collaboration against arms and drug trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking,’’ he added.
President Buhari “condemned in the strongest terms, attacks against Nigerians and other African nationals living in South Africa, the looting of their shops and businesses and burning of their properties’’.
“We call for the strengthening and implementation of all the necessary measures to prevent the re-occurrence of such action which threatens to undermine, not only our strong bilateral relations but also, what we stand for in the context of our vision for a strong and prosperous Africa we want.’’
The President also condemned the “very few incidents of retaliatory attacks on South African businesses in Nigeria”. “I am happy to report that we took strong and decisive measures to stop the attacks and prevent any recurrence.’’
In his remarks, the President of South Africa congratulated President Buhari for winning the 2019 Presidential elections, and starting a second term.
President Ramaphosa said the attacks on foreign nationals was regrettable, assuring that his government will do more to safeguard lives and property.
“We will always be grateful to Nigeria for the support we received during the dark days of apartheid,’’ he added. “We shall never forget the role you played to ensure that our people get the freedom we are enjoying today.’’