South Africa Partners with Nigeria to Refuel Sub-Saharan Automotive Sector

Written by Makula Dunbar

From Inter Press Service

The lack of economic diversification throughout sub-Saharan Africa means that despite South Africa’s pledges to help Nigeria make the automotive sector the West African nation’s flagship industrial target, it may be difficult to do so, experts say.

Earlier this month, South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced the initiative during a visit here by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

It is a move that is seen as an important milestone in inter-African industrial cooperation. However, Peter Draper, a research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, questioned whether this collaboration would develop into economic integration.

“The real question is whether such cooperation could ultimately evolve into meaningful, broader, economic integration rather than the network of mostly hollow shells that currently masquerade as free trade agreements,” he told IPS.

“I think that Nigeria and the Southern African Customs Union should negotiate a complementary Free Trade Area agreement to promote closer economic relations – as the complementarities are strong, and it would bring the two countries closer together politically.”