Mbete to co-chair SA-Nigeria BNC

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pretoria - Deputy President, Baleka Mbete will lead a South African delegation to the Second Review Council Meeting of the South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday.

The Deputy President will be accompanied by a number of Ministers participating in various sectors of the Commission.

The Review Council Meeting, which will be preceded by a meeting of officials on Monday, will focus on the status of bilateral political, economic and trade relations between the two countries.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs the meeting will also focus on strengthening of the structures of the BNC.

"Activities for the commemoration of the 10 year Anniversary of the BNC and political, socio-economic and continental and regional developments will also be discussed," the department said.

Nigeria is considered as one of South Africa's most important partners on the African continent in pursuing the vision of an Africa renewal.

The visit by the Deputy President will further enhance the strong bilateral relations that already exist between the two countries.

Deputy President Mbete and her delegation are scheduled to depart from Nigeria on Wednesday.

Nigeria is regarded as West Africa's economic powerhouse, contributing over 40 percent of West Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Petroleum plays a major role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40 percent of the country's GDP.

With its large population and natural resources the country has become South Africa's most important trading partner on the continent.

The trade relations between Nigeria and South Africa registered substantial growth over the period 1999 to 2007, from R181 3578 000 to almost R11 billion in 2007.

This increase in growth can be attributed to an increase in the demand for energy resources in South Africa; hence 98 percent of imports from Nigeria comprises of crude oil.

Over the years South African companies have become major players in almost all sectors of the Nigerian economy.

The biggest investment by South African companies in Nigeria has been in the telecommunications sector.

Other sectors that South Africa is currently involved in include banking, property, retail, media, mining, construction, tourism, agriculture, entertainment, and the fast food franchising.

These sectors still present a lot of opportunities for South Africa and competition in these markets is still limited.