Could Relations Between Nigeria and South Africa be Set to Grow Even Stronger?

You are here” (CC BY 2.0) by Mister-E

Judged by GDP, Nigeria, and South Africa are the continent’s second and third richest countries, respectively. So it makes perfect sense that there should be a strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the two. But, even though the two nations’ Bi-National Commission has existed for over two decades now, this has not always been the case.

The original aim was to fortify the political, trade, and economic relations between the two nations for the benefit of them both, as well as to promote the African Continental Free Trade Area. However, many factors, including internal struggles and various political factors that have affected both Nigeria and South Africa in the past, meant that expectations have often not been met

But the visit last November to the West African countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Senegal by President Ramaphosa has given hope that there may be a renewed commitment to building good relations. It was also considered being highly significant that the South African president made Nigeria his very first port of call on his tour of the region.

President Cyril Ramaphosa attends Basic” (CC BY-ND 2.0) by GovernmentZA

And, as most commentators agree, the visit could not have been more perfectly timed. With both economies, along with many others around the world, having something of a rough ride at the moment, it would be a very opportune moment for links to be strengthened between the two nations.

In sheer numbers, there is currently something of an imbalance. For example, the trade between the two countries amounted to almost US$3 billion in 2020. But when you break down the figures a little more, you soon discover that total South African imports of Nigerian goods amounted to US$2.48 billion, most of which was as crude oil. On the other hand, South African exports to Nigeria were worth only US$425 million.

There is one area in which the money is flowing exclusively south between Nigeria and South Africa and that’s in using online casinos. South Africa is undoubtedly the gambling capital of the continent, as demonstrated by the sheer number of online casinos operating there. All of them accept the South African rand as a payment currency and they also make generous no deposit welcome bonuses to new players. There is considerable competition between the different operators which helps to increase the values on offer. So it comes as no great surprise that many Nigerians are now taking advantage.

Away from this sector, there are several initiatives that the South African president is thought to have discussed with Muhammadu Buhari. These include making travel easier and border controls more relaxed between the two countries and developing ways to encourage more Nigerian companies to build up a physical presence in South Africa.

Whether these aims come to fruition, we will simply have to wait and see. But the fact that the two countries are now talking is a very positive sign indeed.