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Buhari, Ramaphosa to meet over xenophobic attacks

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Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa will meet on the sidelines of the ongoing African Export Import (Afrexim) bank Annual General Meeting in Abuja to discuss the killing of Nigerians and citizens of other African countries in South Africa.

President Ramaphosa of South Africa made this disclosure at the opening ceremony of the 25th anniversary and annual general meeting of Afreximbank in Abuja Wednesday.

When confronted by a member of the audience on the spate of killing of Nigerians in South Africa, Ramaphosa said his government was already moving against South Africans who are attacking citizens of other counties living in the country.

Ramaphosa attributed the killings to unemployment in his country “as a reason why there was so much antagonism against foreigners.”

He however assured the Nigerian audience that “we are cracking the whip against those who are attacking citizens of other counties.”

Specifically, Ramaphosa explained that “we have been exposed to unsafe environment; criminality and we have historically had a number of challenges to this regard. We have also had a huge problem of unemployment and people have tended to react in a way were they want to safeguard their own interest and express their fears and concerns through xenophobic attacks on other people, and our government have been very clear and strong on this. We will not support anyone who seeks to attack anybody on the basis of their race, their origin or the way they look and we are very clear on that.”

Thereafter he stated that as part of his working visit to Nigeria, he would “be discussing issues relating to security and safety of Nigerians living in South Africa and vice versa with President Muhammadu Buhari.”

As part of the meeting, he said he was accompanied on the visit by his ministers of defense, security and energy.

According to him, “we will not support anyone attacking citizens from other counties. South Africa received a lot of support from Nigeria and others and we are also ready to provide support to them.”

His government he said wants “to see relationship between Nigeria and South Africa improve exponentially. From now, relations between Nigeria and South Africa will improve tremendously. This will be a major plank of discussion between President Buhari and myself during this visit.”

Speaking to the need for mutual coexistence among Africans on the continent, Ramaphosa while delivering the keynote address said “there is already a draft agreement on movement of people and once this is finally ratified, it will be an integral part of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to ease movement of persons in addition to goods.”

South African he said has become an oasis attracting people from all over the continent, and has exposed citizens to unsafe environments.

President, Cyril Ramophosa said he has no doubt that the conference will develop practical framework that will facilitate Africa’s growth to achieving the agenda 2063 of the African Union.

He urged Nigeria to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) agreement which has already been signed by 44 countries in the continent.

In the case of South Africa, he disclosed that “after careful consultation South Africa  had no option than to join in the agreement.”

He said that other African countries look up to Nigeria and South Africa, hence the need for the two leading economies to sign the agreement in order to show their leadership role.

“As Africans, we should play the role we are endowed to play with innovation and talent which Africa is known for”, Ramophosa admonished.

In her presentation, Nigeria’s finance Minister; Mrs Kemi Adeosun when asked when and if the Nigeria government will sign the AfCFTA assured Africa leaders that full consultations were on-going with a view to getting the buy-in of critical stakeholders before Nigeria signs on to the AfCFTA.

Adeosun called on Afreximbank to invest more in the promotion of trade and investment in the continent and support more businesses to grow.

According to her, “we are tired of hearing the rhetorics- ‘Africa’s potential’ let us put it into action. As a government, we (Nigeria) are working to encourage real growth and sustainable trade within the African continent.  We must transform our national economies and we must transform trade.”

The minister urged Afreximbank to continue with its trade promotion and infrastructural development and expressed confidence that the meeting would provide opportunities for African businesses and shared ideas on how to develop the continent better.

She urged the meeting to take concrete steps at promoting and financing African investments, especially on development of infrastructure and factories.

During a press conference, President of Afreximbank Dr Benedict Oramah said intro-African trade strategy, is hinged on three key pillars “create, connect, deliver.”

The create pillar he said deals with the interventions we are making to ensure we produce the goods and services that will enter African trade efficiently, the connect pillar deals with all our interventions that are in place to link the producers to the buyers across Africa, the deliver are the interventions that make it possible for that connection to be done efficiently especially the logistics and related infrastructure.”

He noted that “under the intra African trade strategy which would lapse by 2021, we have started fully from January 2017, we planned that by the end of the five years that we would have disbursed 25 billion dollars. In the first year we did 8 billion dollars so we are well ahead of our projections.”

The disbursements he said are going to “support a number of credit and trade financing that facilitates trade in few African countries. We have supported the export of investment goods from Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria to many other African countries. Supporting trade in food, oil and so on across Africa.”

The money he added “has also gone to development of certain kinds of logistics that will support the trade. As we speak today we are developing industrial parks in Ivory Coast, we are creating the infrastructure that will help trade to occur. For example in Nigeria we are developing a testing and certification center to make sure that quality issues do not remain a constraint with trading in Africans in diaspora. So 25 billion dollars is the plan, in five years we have achieved 8 billion dollars in the first year so we are ahead.”

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