9 March 2016

Africa: Govt, S/Africa to Put Africa On Right Track - Zuma

Photo: GCIS
President Muhammadu Buhari and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

South African President Jacob Zuma yesterday said the economic co-operation between Nigeria and his country would serve as the bedrock of the continent's economic cooperation and intra-Africa trade.

Addressing a joint session of the National Assembly in the company of President Muhammadu Buhari, Zuma said his country and Nigerian must strive not to be left behind in the fourth technological revolution.

He said there was room for greater business engagements particularly in the areas Nigeria had identified as potential growth sectors.

Such areas, he said, included electricity generation and supply, agriculture and agro-processing, tourism, mining, banking, infrastructure development, aviation, manufacturing and the automotive sector.

"We must strive for the diversification of our economies, so as to cast the net wide enough to create more job opportunities for our people, to improve their living conditions and grow our economies through domestic resources in the first instance.

"In doing this, we would break away from the colonial legacy that turned Africa into providers of primary commodities and recipients of processed goods.

"This is important because the current state of affairs makes Africa vulnerable to the volatilities of the international economy that sustains the uneven terms of trade.

"We must strive to bring the manufacturing plants closer to the sources of raw materials. South Africa and Nigeria can, to a large extent, complement each other towards the achievement of this," he said.

On UN, he said Nigeria share a common vision with his country on the need for the reform of the multilateral institutions such as the United Nations particularly the UN Security Council, the IMF, the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank.

On the 2015 general elections, Zuma said Nigerians proved Afro-pessimists wrong by conducting a democratic change of government.

Tracing the long standing relationship between the countries, he said the tenure of late General Murtala Mohammed had a profound impact, particularly on the struggle against apartheid and colonialism in Southern Africa.

"Nigeria supported the liberation struggles of the people of Southern Africa and South Africa specifically outside of the multilateral fora. It is thus clear that ours are time-tested relations.

"The people of Nigeria provided unwavering support and solidarity to the people of South Africa, to unseat the last bastion of colonialism in Africa and enable us to attain our freedom. I would like to remind especially the youth in our two countries, of the role that Nigeria played in the struggle for liberation in South Africa," he said.

He also recalled that Nigeria established the Southern African Relief Fund in 1976 to provide scholarships and other assistance to South African students and refugees.

"More importantly, Nigerian civil servants had a "Mandela Tax" deducted directly from their monthly salaries to support our struggle for liberation. This was a real selfless contribution to the cause of freedom and an end to apartheid colonialism in South Africa," he said.

In his address, Senate President Bukola Saraki said although South African businessmen have found safe heavens and easy access in Nigeria, the reverse is the case with Nigerian businessmen intending to do business in that country.

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