Motlanthe on official visit to Nigeria

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pretoria - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is to arrive in Nigeria today where he is expected to co-chair the 3rd Session of the Review Council of the South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission (BNC) with his counterpart, Vice President Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

The 3rd Review Council Meeting is preceded by the Special Implementation Committee (SIC) meeting which is at the level of Senior Government officials from 10 to 11 November 2009 in Abuja, Nigeria.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said the meeting would take place against the backdrop of the 10th Year Anniversary Celebrations of the BNC which commenced on 24 October in South Africa.

The theme of the celebrations is "South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission: Celebrating 10 Year Anniversary".

"During the 3rd Session of the Review Council, it is anticipated that several Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding will be considered, including cooperation in the area of arts and culture; an economic and technical cooperation," the department said.

In line with the decision of the 7th Session of the BNC by the Co-Chairs to review progress made by the BNC Working Groups, the 1st Review Council meeting was convened in December 2008.

The 1st Review Council meeting noted the challenges that have hampered the Working Groups of the BNC from implementing identified projects and instructed the officials to develop a Five Year Implementation Plan of Action for the BNC.

According to the department, the BNC was borne out of a commitment by both South Africa and Nigeria to effectively structure the bilateral relations and to promote trade and investment between the two countries.

The Inaugural Session of the BNC was held in Abuja from 4 to 5 October 1999 under the co-chairmanship of the Former Deputy and Vice Presidents of South Africa and Nigeria, respectively.

South Africa and Nigeria registered substantial growth over the period 1999 to 2008, from R174 million to almost R22, 8 billion in 2008.

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 are crude oil.

South Africa's exports to Nigeria grew from R505 million in 1999 to R7.1 billion in 2008 while imports from Nigeria increased from R123.6 million in 1999 to R15.7 billion in 2008.

Nigeria is regarded as West Africa's economic giant, contributing over 40 percent of West Africa's Gross Domestic Product.