Opinion: South Africa, Nigeria, Must Stop The Petty Point Scoring

Opinion: South Africa, Nigeria, Must Stop The Petty Point Scoring

Nigeria recently recalled its acting High Commissioner to South Africa, saying the recall was standard practice following violence against African immigrants in South Africa.

Africa’s biggest players owe it to the rest of Africa to set the tone for safeguarding stability and progress, says South African business expert and author Victor Kgomoeswana. Kgomoeswana is a business development executive at PPC, a listed South African cement company.

From IndependentOnline. Story by Victor Kgomoeswana.

South Africa must stop taking on Nigeria, because it cannot; and Nigeria has to learn to be more measured in asserting its status as the No 1 economy by size of gross domestic product and population. Here is why I say so.

Africa needs investment: intra-African and from elsewhere.

In the same week as this diplomatic soap opera played out, the Fitch Ratings agency pronounced that Nigerian banks would withstand the fall in commodity prices.

This was meant to reassure the world that the country was increasingly becoming resilient and less dependent on commodities; a sign of economic diversification and stability.

The Nigerian Ports Authority announced a drop in cargo dwell time from 10 to three days, meaning the cost and time of exports and imports had fallen dramatically.

These are signs that the continent’s largest economy is modernising itself.

The U.S. no longer buys Nigerian oil, implying that Nigeria needs to find African customers for its natural resource. Companies such as telecommunications giant MTN are what they are thanks to their forays into Nigeria.

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Nigerian banks such as Access and Zenith, are growing into the rest of the continent.

In brief, as Africa’s top two economies, Nigeria and South Africa must stop bickering over issues and learn to solve problems in a civil manner without temperamental interludes such as we saw this week or with the visa debacle months ago.

Germany, the E.U.’s largest economy, never goes on a needless stand-off with France; that is why it is taking a lead in resolving the Greek crisis. Reason? To keep the E.U. solid and sound as an economic bloc.

Why can Nigeria and South Africa not realize that they need each other more than the petty ego contests about which of them is Africa’s best or biggest? Because that is what is at the heart of all this.

South Africa stood to lose if MTN’s offices were targeted by anti-xenophobia demonstrators in Abuja. In Malawi, some South African shops were boycotted in retaliation for what was happening to African immigrants in South Africa.

The Southern African Development Community meeting tackled this issue, to its credit, without any members of the bloc resorting to recalling their ambassadors to South Africa.

The story of xenophobia will be resolved. For this to happen, Africans have to remember that the borders that divide us were imposed on us at the Berlin Conference in 1884-1885. There was no African interest served by the carving up of Africa among the colonial powers back then; just as there is nothing progressive about exaggerating the nation state mentality at the expense of African unity.

This unity is best served if the biggest members of the kraal, Nigeria and South Africa, start behaving like leaders. The alternative is to waste more time in advancing the cause of Africa’s economic rebirth and integration.

So, Nigeria and South Africa, stop it now – for good!

Read more at IndependentOnline.