President Jacob Zuma has called on African countries to diversify their economies in order to create job opportunities and improve the living conditions of their citizens.
Zuma made the call yesterday in his remarks to the joint session of the Nigerian National Assembly in Abuja as part of his agenda for his two-day state visit to Nigeria.
Zuma, who was accompanied by his host, President Muhammadu Buhari, to the assembly, said: “We must strive for the diversification of our economies so as to cast the net wide enough to create more job opportunities for our people to improve their living conditions and grow our economy through domestic resources.
“In doing this we will break away from the colonial legacy that turned Africa into a provider of primary commodities and recipients of processed goods.”
He said this was important because the current state of the world made Africa vulnerable to the volatility of the international economy that sustained the uneven terms of trade.
Commenting on the bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Africa, Zuma said there was room for greater business-to-business engagement, particularly in the areas Nigeria identified as potential growth sectors.
These included the diversification of the economy, mainly electricity generation, agriculture, tourism, development, mining, banking and infrastructural development, aviation and the automotive sector.
Speaking about how Nigeria, under the late General Murtala Muhammed, supported the fight against apartheid in South Africa, Zuma said: “The relations between the two countries are informed by this rich history, a history that needs to be told endlessly to current and future generations.”
He said the history provided a context which led to the establishment of formal bilateral relations between the two countries in 1994.
Zuma said his invitation to Nigeria by Buhari meant a lot to South Africa.
“It tells a story of the need for our two sister countries to partner together, not only to strengthen bilateral relations but to partner together in pursuit of continental peace, security and development.
Earlier, Senate president Bukola Saraki described Zuma’s invitation to address the joint session of the assembly as symbolic, as it was the first time a visiting president would address the joint session of the 8th National Assembly.
“This demonstrates the solidarity and deep affection of people of Africa.”
He praised South Africa for the vital role it had played so far in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria. “We must act together to form a new African re-awakening.”
Source – iol