President Cyril Ramaphosa meets Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari - an extremely successful visit, according to Ramaphosa. Picture: Twitter/@PresidencyZA
President Cyril Ramaphosa meets Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari - an extremely successful visit, according to Ramaphosa. Picture: Twitter/@PresidencyZA

President Cyril Ramaphosa has emphasised the need to promote economic integration on the continent, saying the growth of SA’s economy depends on trade with other African countries.

He said this in his weekly newsletter, which this week focused on last week’s state visit to SA by Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari.

According to Ramaphosa it was important that Nigeria and SA, as the continent’s largest economies, maintained good relations for trade among African countries to work.

This comes after foreigners living in SA, including Nigerians, were attacked last month, causing a diplomatic fallout between the two countries. In retaliation, SA businesses in Nigeria were targeted by protesters in the Nigerian commercial capital Lagos and other cities in the west African country. 

This prompted Buhari to visit SA, which Ramaphosa said was “an extremely successful visit”.

“President Buhari and I both firmly believe that the prosperity and stability of our two nations, and all other countries on the continent, requires that SA and Nigeria have strong relations at an economic, trade, social, political, diplomatic and people-to-people level,” wrote Ramaphosa in the newsletter. 

“This will result in a much more integrated and more cohesive Africa.

“SA’s future lies in Africa and it is through our trade with the rest of the continent that we will grow our industries,” he said. “The African marketplace is where our companies will increasingly find trading and investment opportunities.

“It is expected that over the next few decades there will be a massive increase in investment in infrastructure across Africa, which should benefit SA construction companies, manufacturers and banks.”

Ramaphosa acknowledged that many African countries’ economies were growing at a faster pace than that of SA. It was for this reason, he said, that SA signed the African Continental Free Trade Area pledge to ensure the country benefits from the economic growth of the continent.

But these efforts, he added, had been dealt a major blow by the recent violent attacks on foreigners.

“With our relatively established manufacturing base, our developed road, rail, port and energy infrastructure, and our deep financial markets, SA is well placed to make use of the opportunities a free trade area could provide,” said Ramaphosa.

“The recent public violence targeting foreign nationals has challenged our efforts to build stronger ties with other African countries.

“Fuelled by misinformation spread on social media, these attacks provoked much anger in different parts of the continent, leading to threats against SA businesses and diplomatic missions.”

Because of the strong economic ties between Nigeria and SA the two countries could not afford to exist in isolation, said Ramaphosa.

“Nigeria and SA are important for each other’s economies. More than 100 SA companies have investments in Nigeria and over 1,700 have active trade relations in the country.

“Trade between the two countries was worth around R50bn last year, with SA importing a significant amount of its fuel from Nigeria.”