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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 2nd December 2021

Ramaphosa means business in West Africa

Blue Lines

'We want deals' was the mantra of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa when he touched down in Abuja on 30 November for a seven-day West African tour with a delegation of ministers and business leaders. His visit comes a year after the launch and limited progress of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), headquartered in Ghana and led by South African Wamkele Mene.

Ramaphosa, who helped persuade Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari to join the AfCFTA, wants to speed up economic integration across Africa along the model of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. His advisors say that South Africa's determination to build stronger trade routes has been reinforced by the pandemic and narrowing of access to international capital.

Ramaphosa will be pushing for West African states to increase investment in South Africa and to deal with what he described as the 'maze of challenges and difficulties' of doing business in Nigeria. He is due to sign five new agreements with Buhari's government.

Protectionism has deterred intra–African investment and holds back growth across the continent. South African companies, led by the telecoms giant MTN, are well represented in Nigeria but there are few Nigerian firms in South Africa. Last year, South Africa imported $2.48bn of goods, mostly crude oil, from Nigeria; it sent just  $425m of goods the other way.