Mokgethi Monaisa, consul-general, South African (SA) High Commission in Nigeria (since January 2012) believes that both countries share similar potentials and well-positioned to influence the continent’s economic developments.
Monaisa had worked as Ambassador for SA Embassy, Antananarivo; High Commissioner, SA High Commission, Cameroon; Ambassador, SA Embassy, Gabon and Director- Human Rights, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Pretoria Area, South Africa.
To him, Africa shouldn’t have business importing technology from other continents. In this short interview with peter ugwu, at SAGE Software Day in Nigeria 2015, he also shares some insights into the unfortunate xenophobic incident in SA recently.
Nigeria & South Africa Economic Relationship
If we look back, we will remember that there is a bi-national commission between the two countries and normally what bi-national commission implies (at the top of agenda) is business and thus far there has been so many south African companies that have invested in Nigeria and there are also Nigerians business that are in a South Africa too.
The trade balance between the two countries is increasing but it favours Nigeria more, because South Africa imports a lot of crude from Nigeria and that is what tipped the scale in favour of Nigeria. And South Africa on the other hand exports consumer products into Nigeria.
The Trade figures are in the region of 45billion South Africa Rands (SA Currency). It is quite a huge Investment. So also our relations are not only at government to government level, industry to industry level, but also at people to people level.
Grey Areas in SA and Nigeria Bi-lateral Trades
I think there are vast manufacturing opportunities in Nigeria and that is the area which really has to be boosted.
Maybe, there could be a lot challenges that Nigeria is facing and these challenges could be based on Energy (Power) because when you drive industry you have to source plenty of electrical power and there are discussion in South Africa government also to try and boost manufacturing industry in Nigeria because we also want to be importing a lot of finished products from Nigeria and Nigeria also importing finished products from south Africa.
Also there is need for the refining of petroleum product in Nigeria which is another area that has to be boosted so as to be encouraging growth.
It is not good to be exporting a lot of our raw materials to other continents; and next thing, we don’t have to go and buy the finished product, so we need to redefine our own petroleum products.
And then we are looking forward to having more and more refined products being imported by Nigeria from South Africa.
Assessment on Level of Technology Evolvement in Africa Ecosystem
Some years ago our leaders on the continent conceived the idea of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and if we can all as, African countries implement NEPAD as proposed by our leaders I think that will go a long way to promoting technology in Africa instead of looking for technology solutions elsewhere.
We have a lot of brain-powers in Africa and we need to utilize them. And we have a lot of skills that we need to tap into too.
And we have in the Diaspora, Africans who are holding positions at certain industries abroad and we could bring them with those skills into the continent, and go into production and refines our product and NEPAD could be the vehicle to achieve that.
The aim or objective of NEPAD is to inter-trade and promote investment in the continent and also to stop cash flow outside of the continent.
While we don’t break ties with our friends abroad, either in Europe or America, we don’t wish to ‘de-capitalize’ but we wish to be equal.
They need to also come and import from us finished product so we should be dealing at the same level with them as equals.
Concern of Insecurity in the Continent
It is true we are growing and going through a tough time on the continent, we see a lot of terrorist activities now, and suddenly a lot of our countries are becoming targets of these activities.
Therefore, insecurity could be part of that but also we must remember that nobody will come from anywhere else to come and secure the continent for us.
We are the ones that will secure the continent, at the same time promoting investments, build infrastructure.
They will come and destroy that, but we should also have plans in place to rebuild and with that we can boost of stronger and improved results.
I think we need to concentrate on dealing with the insecurity. We need to be able to tell people outside the continent that they can count on Africa for investment. And we need to know that we are the one to secure the continent.
Aftermath of Xenophobia
South Africa has been safe for so many years for many Africans; that is why we find many Africans residing and doing businesses in South Africa. If South Africa was not safe then we won’t have found so many Africans in the country.
About the issue of xenophobia, xenophobia is evident all over the world, as every nation has its own brand of xenophobia.
And normally xenophobia is not a policy of any government. Xenophobia is always caused by a few people and it’s not a culture of any nation.
But you find that it is in a particular minority. You may find out that there are some tendencies like those in which most of them are driven by criminals.
For instance the last xenophobic incidences in South Africa, when you look at them, they were more of criminal elements driven by their own agenda because as much as there were lots of noise about it but when you sit down and recount, you will see that there were only one foreigner who died out of that and three South Africans.
The figures we know are seven and the other three who died were unrelated to the xenophobi. It was just that they happened during that time.
But the noise that was made you will think that people have been killed at random in South Africa and there was nothing like that. What also happen then was that some people post on social Media images that have no relevance to what was happening there.
For instance there were some other images that were picked up from what happened in Rwanda during the genocide.
And then the picture depicted scenarios there were not reflective of the happenings in South Africa then.
It was only a few people in Durban, Alexander and Johannesburg that was all; South Africa will always be safe.
Even if you look there were countries that sent planes to collect their citizens but how many did really go back home?
You can count them and those who left even came back. So they will always be lot of people going to South Africa then just that tells you that South Africa has never be unsafe for anybody.
South Africa’s Expectation from Buhari Led Government
To South Africans, we hope the new government will promote democracy, push human rights and all the tenets of good governance, because they are key issues; good governance, human rights and democracy.
So, we know that Nigeria has also demonstrated that it could be one of the strong homes of democracy.
The way the elections took place and also the fact that a sitting president could be unseated through the ballot box speaks a lot about the democracy in Nigeria and we expect that the new government of Nigeria will also follow those good steps of promoting democracy and good governance.
So, we say congratulations to Nigerians for smooth elections and congratulations for exercising their right to elect the government they want.