SA moves to correct trade deficit with Nigeria


By Chukwuemeke Iwelunmo

The government of South Africa (SA) is making important moves to drive economic growth and balance trade relations with Nigeria by leveraging the aviation, tourism and hospitality sectors of both nations and offering up to ten (10) year visas to the
Nigerian business sector to boost its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

This was revealed at the South Africa/Aviators Africa Aviation Stakeholders forum held at Radisson Blu hotel in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Head of Trade & Investment, South African High Commission in Nigeria, Mr. Greg Munyai, said the total trade between Nigeria and South Africa presently stands at $3 billion, an amount which is not so impressive when put side by side with the figures representing the total trade between Nigeria and some of its global trade partners.

According to Mr. Munyai, “South Africa buys a lot of crude oil from Nigeria, but is it good enough to only buy crude oil? Most observers agree that this isn’t a good thing. We would like to diversify our purchase. To this end, we are working hard with all partners concerned. When it comes to trading with Nigeria, SA ranks 6th on the list of Nigeria’s trading partners. We are at a deficit, because we buy more from this market than the other way round”, he said.

He added that the South African government has created a forum with important stakeholders to advise ministers on what can be done to ameliorate the current situation, including leveraging the exchange of aviation services between the two giant economies of Africa:

“If you look at the structures of the economies of both Nigeria and South Africa, it is very interesting to see that the biggest contributor to both GDPs is services. So what kind of service brings in the money? From the South African point of view, it is aviation, including space technologies.”

“Aside private jets, South African Airways (SAA) and Air Peace are the two major players currently connecting both countries. The government of SA has submitted an application to the Nigerian government for another airline to start plying the route, but we are still awaiting a reply”, he remarked.

Mr Munyai expressed gratitude to the Nigerian airlines that take their planes to SA for maintenance, and encouraged them to further explore and take advantage of the facilities available for that purpose, as the SA government is ready to facilitate the process going forward.

On his part, the Consulate General of the Republic of South Africa, Lagos, Dr. Bobby Moroe, stressed the importance of eradicating bottlenecks that plague the visa application process for Africans, especially Nigerians, who regularly fly to SA for business, and revealed that henceforth, such applicants will be granted visas of up to ten (10) years

“When we issue a three months visa to a Nigerian businessman who goes to South Africa a thousand times a year and he comes back to us again for the same thing after three months, we are shooting ourselves in the foot, as there are hundreds more who are also applying simultaneously. This becomes a vicious cycle. Therefore we resolved that we should start implementing the issuance of up to ten year visas for the entire continent, including the Nigerian business sector”, he said.

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The snag created by the tedious visa application process has had a negative effect on both sides, including other sectors of the South African economy. Effecting the said changes will prove instrumental in boosting trade relations between the two countries, for according to Mr. Munyai

“We have many accredited schools for pilots, as well as schools that provide training on drone technology.  From our side of things, we become embarrassed if bottlenecks in visa processing prevent people from coming to South Africa to take advantage of these opportunities”, he said.

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