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The Diplomatic Cold War South Africa is Fighting With Nigeria – Rooted in Xenophobia?

This generalisation of Nigerians of all classes and background as enemies of the republic appears to be the latest South African antic in their arsenal of xenophobia.

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By Temitope Olomola, a Senior Lecturer at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria

What would be tantamount to a desecration of the memory of Madiba (former President Nelson Mandela)? Intolerance would perhaps rank very highly on such a list. Tolerance by which the late sage ensured that South Africa did not break into a civil war post independence now seems to be under threat from within.

It is rather weird that the openly expressed hostility by South Africans to Nigerians, Zimbabweans and other Africans does not extend to non-Africans. The Africa Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) is doing a lot to generate empirical data that could be useful in the analyses and reaching lasting conclusions on different sides of the xenophobia conversation.

Going through history, one may be correct to say that tensions between South Africa and Nigeria began to deteriorate significantly, probably around 2017 leading up to 2019 when some Nigerians were forced to leave South Africa amidst another wave of xenophobic attacks. A lot has been documented on the state and perceived causes of xenophobia.

You may be forgiven to think that the state visits of President Mohammadu Buhari and that of President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2019 and 2021, respectively, would have somewhat healed the budding tensions.

At the moment it is clear that the lockdown and COVID-19 related agitations that began in 2020 have added salt to the proverbial injury of diplomatic relations between South Africa and Nigeria. A cold war is perhaps the only way to describe the socio political stance that South Africa has suddenly turned to Nigeria and its citizens. It would appear that the several years of bilateral relations and African partnership means little or nothing to the South African diplomatic corps.

Whilst the Nigerian government is largely ignorant or pretending to be unaware of the terrible treatment meted out to her citizens intending to travel to the Rainbow nation, the South African High Commission keeps growing in boldness even within the Nigerian borders. The South African wing of VFS Global has closed down two of its offices in Lagos and Port Harcourt, forcing thousands of applicants to go to the Abuja office since February 1, 2022.

The Commission was initially evasive about the reason for the closure which they explained would be a temporary closure. The information was uploaded to their official website but later removed. Now only the Abuja office collects visa applications from all over Nigeria with complaints of oversubscription as though oblivious that applicants from the other parts of the country were being forced to come to Abuja.

When put into proper perspective, it is interesting that the US, UK, Canada, French and other EU countries amongst other countries process applications from Lagos and Abuja, then you realise this was a deliberate act by the South African authorities to shut out Nigerians. It is, without doubt, a deliberate state objection to exclude Nigerians from their territory.

Some inquiries from the South Africa Tourism team (especially from the recently concluded Tourism Indaba at Durban) confirm that there is an e-visa system in place in Nigeria, but this is turning out to be a ruse.

More frustrating from the Nigerian perspective, is that the High Commission has resorted to simply collecting application fees and refusing to process same till the visa requested date has passed. Close watchers will see that over the last five months, the success rate in the inssuance of visas to Nigerians has dwindled significantly.

Investigations also reveal that while applicants for South African visa in Nigeria are being unduly treated, applicants from other African countries, including Ghana, a neighboring West African country receive South African visas within one to three working days. Deliberate delay in the approval and issuance of visas is the new tactic the South African High Commission employs to frustrate Nigerians.

The reality is that these issues are not new and the inactivity of the Nigerian government has allowed Nigerians to
receive unacceptable insults even in our own country. In November 2018, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) published a piece titled “How South Africa denies Nigerians entry through late issuance of visa” and almost four years after, the situation has gone from bad to worse.

Arguably, South Africa has become the xenophobia capital of the world.

This generalisation of Nigerians of all classes and background as enemies of the republic appears to be the latest South African antic in their arsenal of xenophobia. This is not just unfair in the spirit of Ubuntu but largely unclear in the historical dealings of both countries. For whatever reason, the South African diplomatic team has taken a position that is inimical to the cooperation between both countries.

Could this be seen as an aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic as alluded to in a recent article ?

In my opinion, no excuse is good enough for such antagonism without provocation. There is a Yoruba adage that simply translates thus: it is what a person wants to do that his drunken state brings to the fore. If some Nigerians have misbehaved or acted wrongly in South Africa, is there anything stopping the full implementation of the law against them? The attempt to label all Nigerians enemies of South Africa is not just beneath any honest human society, it is a declaration of war.

It is quite shameful that this treatment is metted out to the nationals of a country whose support has always tilted world position in favour of South Africa’s when the latter was isolated due to apartheid and more recently, during the outbreak of the Covid 19 – Omicron Variant.

Conclusively, until the SA High Commission starts acting like a responsible diplomatic corps and in alignment with other forward thinking nations, an urgent intervention by Nigerian government should be done in the short term. An enquiry needs to be launched into the dealings of the South African High Commissions in Nigeria over this period. Further to this, all fees paid in all cases of deliberate visa delays should be refunded by the SA High Commission.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Economy

Digital Economy: China Seeks More Partnerships With Nigeria

The Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos, Mr. Chu Maoming had advocated for more robust China-Nigeria partnerships in the Digital Economy.

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The Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos, Mr. Chu Maoming had advocated for more robust China-Nigeria partnerships in the Digital Economy.

Investors King learnt that the Chinese Consular General has called for enhanced strategic cooperation between Nigeria and China. The diplomat noted that such a corporation on the digital economy will help to address the challenges confronting Nigeria. 

Speaking in Lagos during the 2022 Africa-China Economic Partnership Agenda Conference, (ACEPAC), Mr Chu Maoming noted that China and Nigeria are the largest economies respectively in Asia and Africa, and both countries are actively developing their digital economies with notable success.

Maoming further stated that Nigeria is one of the most important economies in Africa and Lagos is the economic, financial and technological centre of Nigeria. He, therefore, seeks more collaborations in key digital economic areas of 5G Construction, Mobile Payments Systems and E-Commerce Platform. 

Mr Maoming also noted that digital economy potential lies in the number of mobile internet users in Nigeria which has exceeded 150 million as of June 2022, with an internet penetration rate of nearly 70 percent.

On the other hand, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, (NIIA) Prof Eghosa Osaghae stated that Nigeria will be open to the new possibilities which the digital economy has to offer. 

Furthermore, the Executive Director of Afri-China Media, Ikenna Emewu described the conference as an important event that will further drive Nigeria towards the digital economy. 

The Executive Director said that Nigeria and Africa cannot afford to lag in adopting digital possibilities to improve their economies.

Meanwhile, Nigerian Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Professor Isa Pantami says the Ministry has completed over 2000 projects within three years to enhance the digital economy across the country. The minister disclosed this during an inspection tour of the National Shared Service Centre in Abuja.

Pantami noted that Nigeria is making progress in the digital economy while the numerous projects which are spread across the country will help to improve the productivity of many Nigerians. 

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Economy

MSMEs Critical to Nigeria’s Economic Development- President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has said Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are critical to Nigeria’s economic growth as they contribute about 48 percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

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President Muhammadu Buhari has said Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are critical to Nigeria’s economic growth as they contribute about 48 percent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Richard Adebayo, at the 17th International Trade Fair organised by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), stated that trade is key to ending poverty and also plays a significant role in the economic growth of any nation.

In his words, “It helps to build wealth and improve foreign reserves. Trade is key to ending poverty across countries, raising standards of living and improving productivity. No economy can thrive without robust trade

“The MSME segment is critical to the stimulation of economic development. Nigeria is estimated to be home to over 40 million MSMEs who, together, contribute about 48 per cent of our GDP. Many of us just see MSMEs as the mamas that fries Akara or the friendly Malam that owns the kiosk on our street.

“That is not the case; some of the fastest growing Fintech start-ups in Africa are in fact MSMEs. This trade fair provides an opportunity to change the narrative of what MSMEs are and demonstrates how innovative they can be.”

“I see enterprises that employ large cross-sections of our youth population. I see enterprises with the capacity to export. I do not see small businesses here, I see future mighty business.”

“The Federal Government is keen to help MSMEs achieve their full potential and has developed strategic policy interventions, enshrined laws and established institutions to create a supportive business environment for entrepreneurs and MSMEs.

“In line with this, the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment (FMITI) has developed a programme that will enhance access to credit for over 10 million MSMEs at single digit rate.

“Aside from the provision of finance, this project will address key ecosystem issues such as the development of MSME clusters to lower operating costs as well as capacity-building initiatives.

“The Ministry has also commenced the process of adopting a centralised automated platform for the registration of Trademarks, Patents and Designs. The overall objective is to fully digitise existing records and automate the registration process to enable ownership and commercialisation of innovation,” he stated.

It would be recalled that Investors King on October 2, 2022 reported that the federal government has directed the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) to step up its efforts to increase its funding for MSMEs.

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Economy

High Interest Rate Will Hurt New Job Creation, Exacerbate Unemployment – Manufacturers Tells FG

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has said the recently increased interest rate would drag on new job creation and subsequently lead to job loss amid Nigeria’s already worrisome unemployment rate.

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The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has said the recently increased interest rate would drag on new job creation and subsequently lead to job loss amid Nigeria’s already worrisome unemployment rate.

In a statement signed by the Director-General of MAN Segun Ajayi-Kadir, manufacturers disclosed that the increase in the Monetary Policy Rate and the Cash Reserve Ratio portended worrisome negative consequences for the manufacturing sector.

MAN noted that the increase in MPR from 14 percent to 15.5 percent would rub off negatively on other rates and dash the hope for a single-digit lending rate for the productive sector of the economy.

It further said that the recent development would lead to an increase in the cost of borrowing by manufacturers, further beyond the double-digit rate, which would disincentivize new investments in the sector.

The statement read in part, “The observed continuous contractionary monetary policy posture without complementary fiscal support may not effectively reduce the prevailing inflationary pressure on the economy.

“This is not unconnected with the fact that the current increase in consumer price index as reported by NBS is not largely driven by the monetary phenomenon, as self-inflicted weak foreign exchange rate management can be linked to the pressure.”

MAN disclosed that the rate hike would cause increased factor costs which will inflate the price of  products, stating that it was hopeful that the CBN would creatively go beyond the conventional monetary management system because global economic dynamics were changing and conventional measures might no longer be effective.

The statement further read, “It is important that the monetary authority strategically set in motion mechanism for holistic balancing of the real interest rate, which is critical to investment and not just following leading economies to adjust Interest rate without considering domestic peculiarities.”

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