Opening Remarks by Honourable Dr GNM Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the Mid-Term Review of the 10th BNC between the Republic of South Africa and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Monday, 28 November 2022

My dear brother, His Excellency, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,

Your Excellencies High Commissioners Mseleku and Manta,

Distinguished members of the South African and Nigerian delegations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I feel very honoured to welcome you and your delegation to our beautiful country, South Africa.

I want to express my sincere condolences to you and your family following the passing of your brother, the Late Justice Charles Onyeama.

I salute your commitment to the deepening of the bilateral cooperation through honouring my invitation to come to South Africa for the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the 10th Bi-National Commission (BNC) during this difficult time in your family.   Please accept my deep condolences.

South Africa regards the relationship with Nigeria as strategic in the context of bilateral relations, the West Africa region, the Africa We Want, and the promotion of a rules-based international system of governance. The strategic relationship is rooted in strong historical ties dating back to the struggle against apartheid and colonialism.

I am very pleased that we are witnessing a steady increase of investments in the South African economy by Nigerian companies. For example, the Dangote Group whose investment in the cement industry is the largest investment by a Nigerian Company in South Africa. The packaging company GZI Industries Ltd from the Ondo State is another sizeable Nigerian company invested in South Africa. The recent Access bank investment is the third largest investment in South Africa.

Nigeria represents a key long-term market for South African investments. Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-20); and the National Development Plan 2021-2025 present massive investment opportunities for South African public and private entities in partnership with Nigerian public and private entities, in the following sectors: Agriculture; Transport infrastructure including aviation, rail, and road; Oil and Gas; Housing; Financial Services Sector; Sports, Arts and Culture amongst other sectors.

Furthermore, Nigeria provides trade opportunities for South Africa and it is South Africa’s biggest trading partner in West Africa.  South Africa’s investment in Nigeria is made up of approximately 120 companies whose total investment is worth more than R4, 398 billion of capital expenditure and significant employment opportunities for Nigerian people have been created during the period under review.

However, South African companies have recently apparently found it difficult to operate in Nigeria.  Some of the reported challenges include regulatory issues and non-tariff barriers.  As a result, the number of South African companies operating in Nigeria has significantly decreased from above 350 to the present 120 companies with the recent departures being Game, Shoprite, SASOL, etc.

Given these statistics it was correct that our Heads of State and Government decided during the 10th BNC that a mid-term review (MTR) of the implementation of the decisions of the BNC at the level of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs be convened, hopefully to address challenges and encourage greater action on agreed goals.

The year 2023 will mark the 29th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Africa and Nigeria.  The mid-term review will assist us to assess progress with the implementation of the decisions of the 10th BNC; identify weaknesses in implementation; and take measures to strengthen implementation. It will also assist us to ensure the operationalisation of the mechanisms established by the Heads of State and Government to address the challenges faced by our people and business.

Your Excellency, we meet today on the eve of World AIDS day.  The Commemoration of World AIDS Day on the 1st of December is a reminder that HIV is still a reality and we must redouble our commitment to turn around the HIV, AIDS and TB epidemics in our country, continent and the world as we aspire to a ‘prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development’ with healthy and well-nourished citizens.

One of our shared concerns is peace and security in Africa. We commend the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for choosing to settle their differences through dialogue and diplomacy during the African Union facilitated talks hosted in South Africa from 25 October to 2 November 2022.

This is a positive step towards the Agenda 2063 aspiration of a peaceful and secure Africa and the goal of silencing the guns.  This successful outcome would not be possible without the extraordinary effort of the facilitation team led by the Former President of Nigeria H.E. Olusegun Obassanjo; assisted by the Former President of Kenya, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta and the Former Deputy President of South Africa, H.E. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

This is a clear demonstration of the immense positive impact a strong collaboration between South Africa and Nigeria has on the Africa We Want.

In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that I stand ready to work with you to deepen our countries’ bilateral cooperation.

With those few words, welcome my dear brother, Minister Onyeama and your delegation.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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