President South Africa, Jacob Zuma, on Tuesday, said that in order for the country to tackle the menace of unemployment, there must be a strive towards the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
Zuma, who made the statement while addressing a joint session of the National Assembly, noted that both South Africa and Nigeria must be willing to cast their nets wide enough so that more job opportunities will be created.
President Zuma, who is on a two-day working visit to Nigeria, in his speech, revealed that the diversification will ensure a break away from the colonial legacy, which according to him, has turned Africa into providers of primary commodities and recipients of processed goods.
He said, “We are happy that the bilateral economic relations between the two countries have significantly improved in the last 16 years as evidenced by the growing bilateral trade figures and investments.
“More than one hundred and twenty South African companies operate in Nigeria currently, a huge growth from a mere four companies in 1999.
“Nonetheless, there is room for greater business to business engagements particularly in the areas Nigeria has identified as potential growth sectors.
“These include the diversification of the economy, namely electricity generation and supply, agriculture and agro-processing, tourism development including the hospitality sector, mining, banking, infrastructure development, aviation, manufacturing and the automotive sector.
“We must strive for the diversification of our economies, so as to cast the net wide enough to create more job opportunities for our people, to improve their living conditions and grow our economies through domestic resources in the first instance.
“In doing this, we would break away from the colonial legacy that turned Africa into providers of primary commodities and recipients of processed goods. This is important because the current state of affairs makes Africa vulnerable to the volatilities of the international economy that sustains the uneven terms of trade.
“This diversification will go further to improve the impact that Africa can have in the global economy and to reconfigure the terms of trade.
“We must strive to bring the manufacturing plants closer to the sources of raw materials. South Africa and Nigeria can to a large extent complement each other towards the achievement of this.”
He also said that South Africa is ready to partner with Nigeria to improve the power supply.
“Our experience in electricity generation can also be tapped into, to assist in Nigeria’s electricity generation, to name but a few,” Zuma said.
He further said that there is a need for the country to be sensitive to environmental changes, adding that the both countries have an obligation to work on a stable and peaceful environment in order to attract investors and tourists.
“We need to take into consideration the need to be sensitive to new environmental dynamics such as those of global warming and alternative energy sources.
“Also important for us to take into account, is that the creation of a stable and peaceful environment in Africa is a prerequisite to attract more foreign direct investment to develop African Economies.
“South Africa and Nigeria’s experience in the peaceful settlement of disputes, peace building and peace keeping missions is of utmost importance for progress in Africa.
“In this regard South Africa has been re-elected into the AU Peace and Security Council at the recent AU Summit held in Addis Ababa in January this year.
“We are ready to work with Nigeria to meaningfully feed into the work of the AU Peace and Security Council, for the good of our continent,” he said.