President Cyril Ramaphosa: Joint press briefing with President Mohammadu Buhari
Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the joint press briefing with President Mohammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
President Muhammadu Buhari,
Members of the media,
Allow me to express my gratitude to President Buhari and the government of Nigeria for receiving us so warmly in Abuja.
I think it is important that I emphasize this in the light of the discovery by South African scientists of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, and the subsequent imposition of extremely harsh and unfair travel restrictions on flights from and to South Africa, as well as on a number of other African countries.
President Buhari, the solidarity expressed by yourself and the government of Nigeria sends the strongest of messages.
It says that as African countries we are standing united against the imposition of arbitrary and discriminatory restrictions that are not only unscientific, but counter-productive in the long run.
Indeed, the leaders of Cote d’Ivoire, where we will be travelling to later today, as well as of Ghana and Senegal, have also expressed their dissatisfaction with the travel ban against South Africa and our sister countries in Southern Africa.
This is a global pandemic, and overcoming it requires that we collaborate and work together as a collective.
The resulting damage from this ban to national economies on the continent will be considerable and long-lasting.
I want to use this opportunity to once again call on the countries who have imposed these travel bans to reverse their decisions.
Of the many areas of cooperation explored during this BNC was Nigeria and South Africa working to build resilience in our respective health systems and around our shared health priorities. A draft MOU in this regard is being processed. As African countries we affirmed that healthcare cooperation is a critical focus area in the current climate, as well as in furtherance of the AU’s Agenda 2063.
Members of the media from Nigeria and South Africa, I want to thank you for being here today.
You play a valuable role in communicating the work that is being done, and in faithfully imparting the message that Nigeria and South Africa are as committed as ever to strengthening their ties.
We have just concluded a successful 10th Session of the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission.
President Buhari and I witnessed the signing of a number of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding to advance trade and investment, development, economic upliftment and youth empowerment, among others.
These new agreements broaden the scope of our cooperation on issues of common interest and mutual benefit, and we will work together to ensure their implementation.
At present our two countries have signed approximately 32 agreements, and today we have added three more to the current portfolio. They are an MOU in the field of Youth Development, an Agreement on Audiovisual Co-operation, and a Programme of Cooperation on Arts and Culture.
The Youth Development MOU will be key to improving people to people relations and to capacitating young people in our respective countries.
South Africa and Nigeria both have rich cultural, vibrant arts and flourishing sports sectors, all of which will be greatly enriched through greater collaboration through the Programme of Cooperation.
The Agreement on Audio-visual Cooperation will be a boost to the film production industries in our respective countries, and we as South Africa stand to benefit greatly from cooperation with the world-famous Nollywood.
I am also pleased that additional MOU’s on Political Consultation and on an Early Warning Mechanism will be signed as soon as legal processes have been concluded.
During this BNC we also launched two groundbreaking initiatives.
The first is a Joint Ministerial Advisory Council on Trade, Investment and Industry.
This Council will promote economic relations between our two countries, and serve as a platform through which obstacles to doing business can be overcome. The Trade, Finance and Industry Working Group of the BNC has recommended we look into these constraints facing businesses in both countries.
It is furthermore a means for our Ministers to interact and share ideas about new opportunities in trade and investment between our two countries.
We want to improve the balance of trade between our countries, and we are extremely encouraged by the interest expressed by a number of Nigerian businesses in accessing the South African market. We are particularly encouraged by the interest from Nigerian banks, and it has been recommended they work with South African regulatory authorities to facilitate their access into the financial sector in South Africa.
The second initiative we have launched is the inaugural South Africa-Nigeria Youth Dialogue.
The purpose of this dialogue is to build the capacity of both South African and Nigerian youth across a range of sectors, from peacebuilding to conflict prevention and resolution, from intercultural learning to civic education, from human rights education and democracy to promoting tolerance and diversity.
We will be working towards regularizing this dialogue such that it becomes an integral part of the BNC programme in our future engagements.
As South Africa we will be looking at how we can establish a youth exchange and leadership development programme, rallying around the legacy of President Nelson Mandela who was a champion for youth development. It will include important components such as civics education, value systems inculcation, social cohesion and promoting a culture of service.
More details will be provided in due course so please watch this space.
In conclusion, let me thank all who have been part of making this 10th Bi-National Commission a resounding success.
I wish to thank you once again, President Buhari, for the fruitful engagements and measurable outcomes we have agreed on today.
May the good work continue and may our relations as Nigeria and South Africa continue to grow from strength to strength.
I thank you.