The leaders of Nigeria and South Africa held talks Monday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, with the goal of increasing cooperation, especially in mining and telecommunications.
Experts say more cooperation between Africa’s two largest economies in line with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement would boost growth and development across the continent.
A spokesperson for Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said Tinubu’s discussion with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was the first meeting the Nigerian leader is expected to hold with counterparts from around the world this week at the 78th U.N. General Assembly. His intent is to attract investments that will strengthen Nigeria’s economy.
On Monday, Tinubu and Ramaphosa discussed cooperation in the mining and telecom sectors — specifically about easing stringent business policies that discourage investment.
Tinubu said improving economic ties would create more jobs and benefit both countries.
Nigerian economist Isaac Botti agreed, saying, “It’s expected that having a strong alliance with South Africa will also enhance our economic growth, particularly recognizing that South Africa is the second-largest economy in Africa.”
Botti also said that an agreement between the two nations would “enhance, within the U.N. system, opportunities for expanding investments, opportunities for improving sources of revenue.”
“For example,” he said, “if they could get into a concrete agreement on mining, it means that as a nation we will be able to diversify our economy.”
Political affairs analyst Rotimi Olawale said African nations need to work together if they are to improve health and living standards for the millions stuck in poverty.
“It’s high time to begin to see deeper collaborations between players on the continent,” Olawale said. “When push comes to shove, like we saw during Covid, every continent looked inward. European Union began to negotiate as a bloc for the purchase of vaccines. So it’s much more important for especially the big countries to lead the way in seeking closer ties and collaborations.”
During his campaign this year, Tinubu promised to boost Nigeria’s economy if elected president. Since assuming office in May, the president has embarked on the country’s boldest economic reforms in decades, including scrapping a popular but highly expensive fuel subsidy.
This week, Tinubu is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and executives from Microsoft, Meta and Exxon Mobil.
Olawale said the president is likely to hold other such meetings designed to pave the way for foreign investment.
“I expect that we’d see many more of such meetings,” Olawale said. “Nigeria is in dire need of investments in many sectors — construction, telecoms, innovation, science and technology. I expect that many of these things will be at the top of the president’s agenda as he begins to discuss with many of these countries.”
Last week, Tinubu visited the United Arab Emirates and met with the country’s president. The visit led to the UAE lifting a visa ban on Nigerian travelers. Tinubu’s office said the UAE also promised to invest several billion dollars in the Nigerian economy across multiple sectors, including defense and agriculture.