SA and Nigeria determined to create conducive environment for business
President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari say they have committed to creating a “conducive environment” for businesses to operate and thrive in their respective counties.
“Nigeria is a very important economy and market from our country’s perspective and I guess from your own business perspective as well. That is why so many SA businesses have planted their business operations in Nigeria,” said Ramaphosa.
He was speaking at the Hilton Hotel in Abuja where he met business leaders before bilateral trade talks with Buhari on Wednesday morning.
The two heads of states are expected to sign deals and memoranda of understanding on political, diplomatic, economic and trade relations.
Ramaphosa started his four-nation visit to Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal with a private dinner with Buhari on Tuesday evening.
He acknowledged there are challenges, with some businesses opting to exit the countries for different reasons.
“In my discussions with President Buhari, both last night over a one-on-one dinner as well as this morning, this matter has been raised and will be raised again.
“We have agreed we are going to improve and create a conducive environment for our businesses to operate, for Nigerian businesses to operate in SA and for SA businesses to operate in Nigeria within an environment that will allow businesses to thrive and grow.
“We both know there are a maze of challenges and difficulties. This is what we need to address. We cannot run away from this market. It is far too important a market, the largest economy in the continent and we are a big economy on the African market, so we are going to remain engaged.”
The good thing, Ramaphosa said, is that Buhari and ministers are determined to “improve the relationship between SA and Nigeria and to do so at a very high and close level”.
“Nigeria’s disposition towards us is fairly positive, even during trying periods like now with [Covid-19 variant] Omicron having arrived and everybody banning us. They called and said ‘are you still coming’ and we said ‘of course we are still coming’.”
Ramaphosa said operations had to be scaled down after some members of the SA delegation tested positive for Covid-19.
“As a country that is careful, they had to recalibrate the programme. That shows and demonstrates their positive approach to us and support during this period of bans which we have been unfairly subjected to by many countries around the world, which we will be working through.”
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