S/African Envoy wants more Nigerian investments

By Mike Mbonye

The Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Amb. Martin Cobham, has called for more Nigerian investments in that country, to enhance the balance of trade between the two countries.

Cobham told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Pretoria on Monday that the Federal Government should use the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission to open up avenues for more of such investments.

“Nigeria is a big market; South Africa has the technology, so, the two countries share an inclusive and collaborative desire to work together.

“The two countries are economic giants. Therefore, there should be joint ventures between Nigerian and South African investors.

“South Africa has a lot of companies in Nigeria, but there is a dearth of Nigerian companies here,” he said.

According to Cobham, the next meeting of the Bi-National Commission, should open doors for Nigerian investors to have similar investments and enterprises in South Africa.

“ For a start, we can have Mr Biggs, or a Nigerian bank to cater for the Nigerian community in South Africa. The South African banks have stringent measures,” he said.

The high commissioner suggested that relevant bodies like the Nigerian Economic Summit Group and the Nigerian-South African Chamber of Commerce, could also be used to open up avenues for such Nigerian investments.

“ To date, only Dangote Cement has a substantive presence in South Africa. Currently, the balance of trade is in favour of South Africa.

“ Beyond the area of investments between the two countries, flights to Nigeria from South Africa are dominated by the South African aviation industry. There are 10 weekly flights to Nigeria, seven to Lagos, three to Abuja and none from Nigeria,” he said.

Cobham also called for collaboration in the aviation sector, to make the two countries jointly own planes to meet the needs of their people.

The high commissioner said, “we want to see a Nigerian telecommunication giant, like Globacom equally make forays in here.

“We should also make a case for Nigerian farm produce to come in here without hindrance because we have a sizeable Nigerian population here and they love our native food.

“There should be more opening of doors in favour of Nigeria in South Africa,” Cobham added.

Trade between Nigeria and South Africa has increased steadily from N43.6 billion (R.20.6 billion) in 2010 to N1.3 trillion (R.62 billion) in 2015.

The gradual movement since 2010 could be attributed to Nigeria’s demand for automotive parts. South Africa exports cars, vehicles, structures and parts of structure, uncoated paper and paperboard.

Nigeria presents a huge market with a population of over 170 million people and vast resources, while South Africa presents the technical know-how in developing industries.

The South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Lulu Mnguni, recently described Nigeria as one of the countries in Africa currently enjoying a favourable balance of trade with South Africa.

The high commissioner, who said that there was an increasing number of South African multinational companies in Nigeria, added that there were currently about 120 South African companies in the West African nation.

Mnguni said that the companies had invested in engineering, ICT, construction, aviation, media, hospitality, banking, retail chain and oil and gas exploration services in Nigeria.

“South African companies have today become significant players in these sectors of the Nigerian economy since 1999.

“Nigerian SMEs are dominant in the small business sector in South Africa. Therefore, the two are really complementing each other,” he said.

The envoy said it was imperative for both countries to close ranks toward the implementation of the 2063 African Union agenda.

He said strategic partnership is required in pursuance of Africa’s South-South cooperation and in the promotion of a rules-based international system.