Rejuvenating Nigeria-South Africa Relations, by Oluwaseun Tella
There is no doubt that Nigeria-South Africa relations have seen a roller coaster ride, from antagonistic relations during the apartheid era in South Africa and from Nigeria’s military era in the post-era era. apartheid to more friendly relations, especially during the time of the Obasanjo-Mbeki administrations. . Since their relationship is essential to continental peace, democracy, Pan-Africanism and regional integration, it is crucial that these regional powers put aside competition and cooperate on multiple levels.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state visit to Nigeria as part of his tour of four West African states – across Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal – in the middle The resurgence of the COVID-19 variant, Omicron, in South Africa represented an attempt to rejuvenate bilateral relations with these countries (notably Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy). The visit coincided with the 10e session and 20e anniversary of the Nigeria-South Africa Binational Commission (established in 1999 to strengthen bilateral relations), highlighting the successes, challenges and prospects for trade and investment between the two states. This is essential in light of the fact that apart from their importance as two of the largest economies and arguably the most powerful countries on the continent, the volume of trade between them is remarkable. In 2020, Nigeria accounted for 64% of South Africa’s trade in West Africa and Nigeria was South Africa’s largest import market in Africa and sixth globally, behind China , Germany, the United States, India and Saudi Arabia. In addition, over 120 South African companies operate in Nigeria.
In his speech, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari stressed the need to strengthen people-to-people relations between states with the aim of putting aside the unhealthy competition that has characterized the relations between Nigeria and South Africa. He noted that the agreed early warning mechanism would strengthen these relations and that the Nigeria-South Africa Youth Dialogue would soon be launched. Buhari added that the relations between the two countries are essential for the socio-economic, technological and cultural development of Africa, as well as for peace and security on the continent.
Expressing gratitude for her warm welcome, Ramaphosa noted that Nigeria and South Africa have reviewed existing agreements and signed new agreements, including a memorandum of understanding on youth development, women’s empowerment and of children and political consultations, and agreements on audiovisual, artistic and cultural cooperation with a view to improving relations between people. A Joint Ministerial Advisory Council on Trade, Investment and Industry was also launched with the aim of improving economic relations and alleviating business challenges in the two countries.
Indeed, it is essential to pay more attention to interpersonal relationships. While the emphasis has been on the free movement of goods and capital, the free movement of people and cultural integration have been compromised. The emphasis on goods and capital over people has led to increased investment on the one hand and xenophobia on the other.
There is no doubt that Nigeria-South Africa relations have seen a roller coaster ride, from antagonistic relations during the apartheid era in South Africa and from Nigeria’s military era in the post-era era. apartheid to more friendly relations, especially during the time of the Obasanjo-Mbeki administrations. . Since their relationship is essential to continental peace, democracy, Pan-Africanism and regional integration, it is crucial that these regional powers put aside competition and cooperate on multiple levels. In addition to the people-to-people relations highlighted by the two presidents, three key areas require immediate attention to strengthen the Abuja-Pretoria axis, namely state-state relations, academic collaboration and celebrity collaboration.
Indeed, it is essential to pay more attention to interpersonal relationships. While the emphasis has been on the free movement of goods and capital, the free movement of people and cultural integration have been compromised. The emphasis on goods and capital over people has led to increased investment on the one hand and xenophobia on the other. It is therefore important for Nigeria and South Africa to reduce xenophobia and encourage people-to-people relationships.
In terms of state-state relations, South Africa should endeavor to invite Nigeria to join the BRICS as a Nigeria-South Africa partnership in this grouping will be a stronger force to promote African interests. Beyond rhetoric, countries should strive to provide a more supportive environment for their businesses in their respective states. While over 120 South African companies operate in Nigeria, including multinationals like MTN and Standard Bank, Nigeria has only a few multinational companies in South Africa. Both sides have often complained about debilitating state policies that undermine investment. It is therefore important that the governments of these states coordinate their policies to increase the influx of multinational companies in both directions. They should also explore the potential of city-city relations, in particular the Lagos-Johannesburg axis. Since these cities are the economic hubs of their respective states, extended relations between them could strengthen Nigeria-South Africa relations.
Given the popularity of Nigerian and South African music and films, there is an opportunity for celebrities from both countries to collaborate to improve Nigeria-South Africa relationsâ¦ Nigeria and South Africa can take advantage of this opportunity by deploying celebrity diplomacy to promote their national interests and improve their relations.
It is also important for academics – especially those in the fields of international relations and economics – from both countries to engage in collaborative research that provides factual results on the potential, successes and challenges of the relationship. Nigeria-South Africa. This would improve mutual understanding and relations and their implications for Africa. The research collaboration between the two countries would inform political choices in their bilateral relations and, by extension, relations with the other countries of the continent. It would also help to highlight each country’s comparative advantage and corresponding policy imperatives and showcase the cultures of the two, highlighting areas of similarity and difference. All of these factors could improve relations between arguably the most critical states in Africa.
Given the popularity of Nigerian and South African music and films, celebrities from both countries have the opportunity to work together to improve Nigeria-South Africa relations. While there have been a few collaborations such as Nigerian Burna Boy and South African AKA, Nigerian Niniola and South African Busiswa, Nigerian Davido and South African Nasty C and Nigerian Wizkid and South African DJ Maphorisa, there is room for more collaboration. Nigeria and South Africa can take advantage of this opportunity by deploying celebrity diplomacy to promote their respective national interests and strengthen their relationship.
Oluwaseun Tella is Director, The Future of Diplomacy at the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.
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