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NIGERIA-SOUTH AFRICA RELATIONSHIP: HOW TO MAKE IT BETTER

Posted on: 20 Mar 2017

Dr. Okechuku Enelamah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment while speaking on the topic: Nigeria-South Africa Relationship: How to make it better at the Nigeria South Africa Chamber of Commerce breakfast forum said that  “The amount of Trade between Nigeria and South Africa is below our potential; the volume of trade has been driven largely by the commodity price of crude oil; concerted and sustainable measures are needed to increase the level of relationship between Nigeria and South Africa; there are synergistic opportunities to increase the level of economic relations.”

He went to profile Nigeria and South Africa’s economic status ostensibly to show why they needed to make things better for both countries. According to him, Nigeria, with a population of above 170 million people has largest population in Africa and 7th largest in the world; large domestic market. And regarding productivity and demographic potentials, he said diversification was already underway, that there was low productivity across key economy sectors, large unskilled and semi-skilled labour force that could be drawn at low wages.

And on the issue of resources, he said, “Nigeria has the 10th largest proven oil reserves (37 billion barrels) and 9th largest natural gas reserves (5Tr m3) and commercially viable minerals and arable land; Nigeria is strengthening institutions and government co-operation; elections are becoming more credible and the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-national Commission (BNC) has been established.”

South Africa, according to the minister, has more than 54 million people; it is the economic power house of Africa – industrial output and mineral production; it is seeking growth market. For productivity and demographic potential, he said the country has a sophisticated market across various sectors – financial, mining, automobile, a relatively high cost of labour. On natural resources, “South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum, gold, chromium, vanadium and vermiculite,   and second largest producer of diamonds and third largest exporter of coal. And the country has strong financial and regulatory institutions.”

Nigeria is doing more in its relations with South Africa, according to the minister.  His list includes re-energizing the Nigeria-South Africa Business Council; Federal Government’s plan to boost economic activities; Economic Recovery and Growth Plan; MITI’s plan to boost Opportunities; Increased engagement with South Africa.

However, the Government is launching an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) with the following top priorities: Stabilize the macroeconomic environment;  Align monetary, trade and fiscal policies; Accelerate non-oil revenue generation;  Drastically cut costs; Privatize selected assets; Achieve agriculture and food security; Expand energy infrastructure and capabilities; Drive industrialization through local enterprise; Deliver on agricultural transformation; Urgently increase oil production; Expand power sector infrastructure; Boost local refining for self-sufficiency; Improve Ease of Doing and Acceleration of  National Industrial Revolution Plan implement.

Enelamah explained “focus on three key levers is essential for full delivery of Nigeria’s ERGP”. The key levers in question according to him are:

The right tools

  • Detailed implementation plans by initiative including key activities, timelines, responsibilities and cost estimates
  • Clear, succinct dashboards to track progress

The right delivery capability

  • A Delivery Unit focusing on high-priority initiatives
  • Adequate M&E capabilities to track impact across all initiatives

The right mindset

  • Execution-driven mindset, particularly for high-priority initiatives
  • Focus on transparency and communication to uphold credibility and accountability

According to  Enelamah, Federal Ministry Industry Trade and Investment’s plan for Economic Diversification and Growth Supports ERGP and he gave the core pillars as Implement the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP); Support Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); Support   digitalization  of the Nigerian economy and foundational enablers as Established in an Enabling Business Environment; Establish 21st century trade/free trade agreements; Attract domestic and foreign investments and  Institutionalize the Structural Reform Agenda (SRA).

MITI initiatives

Two examples of MITI initiatives to make Nigeria attractive and competitive for business and investment, according to the minister include the following:

Enabling Business Environment

  • The President approved the formation of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) – chaired by H.E. the Vice President.
  • PEBEC is supported by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES) – Private and Public Sector Reform Leaders.
  • Prioritized over 50 reform initiatives, aimed specifically at the SME business climate, and we are pushing against a 60-day timeline.
  • Special Economic Zones
    • Established the need to use Special Economic Zones (SEZ) to bridge the infrastructure and competitiveness gap.
    • Identified up to 10 zones across the country to develop using public private partnership.
    • Working with reputed partners to execute and deliver on the world-class parks.

Boosting cooperation between Nigeria and South Africa

He gave a long list:

  • Boosting Bilateral Cooperation;
  • Elevating the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-national Commission to the Presidential level;
  • Re-constituting the Nigeria-South Africa Business Council for effective performance.
  • Initiating the Joint Ministerial Advisory Council by the private sector to provide advisory support on industry, trade and investment matters.
  • Establish cooperation in areas of joint interest such as automobile, mining, defence, agro-processing, and textile.
  • Facilitating Regional Cooperation.
  • Support development of a regional value chain with a view to serving the interest of the African continent.
  • Established a working group of four regional leaders, i.e. Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Kenya to provide leadership for regional initiatives such as the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA).
  • Partnering with the Nigeria-South Africa Chamber of Commerce to improve relationship.
  • Active engagement and partnership with the government.
  • Enabling Environment.
  • Special Economic Zones.
  • Digital Economy.

Life is about perspective – let us focus on solutions and opportunities, he said.

Enelamah said  the current economic relationship between Nigeria and South Africa can be improved; government is implementing measures to boost the economy and we are focused on delivery;  perspective matters – positivity about the economy holds promise for boosting economic relations between Nigeria and South Africa; partnership between the government and institutions like NSACC is critical for economic growth.