Abuja (WorldStage Newsonline)-- South African government may shift the source of its crude oil imports to Nigeria in view of the growing uncertainties in the international oil market occasioned by the Euro zone, American, Asian and Middle East economic and political rumblings.
Giving the hint in Abuja during the opening of the multi-billion naira Grand Towers Mall on Wednesday night in Abuja, South African High Commissioner in Nigeria, His Excellency, Kingsley Mamabolo, said importing oil from Nigeria was among other issues discussed at the Bi-National Commission meeting in South Africa this month, adding that if consummated, crude oil exports to the country would boost South African-Nigeria volume of trade in the years ahead.
The High Commissioner, who put the volume of trade between the two countries now at an estimated $3 billion dollars yearly, noted that complaints about lopsided bilateral trade relations between Nigeria and South Africa had to do with the level of development in the economies and not any policy framework to restrict trade.
He explained: “South African investment in Nigeria has been increasing. I know that the volume of trade is said to be in the region of $3 billion and it has grown from the region of $1 billion in 1998 to about $3 billion now. We are moving and from 1998 till now we have got a lot of investment in Nigeria, for instance, investments by MTN, Multichoice and many others and in Nigeria you have the Dangotes going to South Africa and so on.
“Of course, there has always been the complaint that the trade appears lopsided. Some people say there are more South African companies coming to Nigeria rather than the other way round and of course, governments have been trying to see how we address that. How do you address that? You can never find equity and the reason for this is because our economies are not the same.
“South African economy is much more diversified, there is much more you are buying from South Africa than what we are buying from Nigeria because unfortunately Nigeria in the past has focused much on oil than other sectors. One of the ways of addressing the problem of lopsidedness in our trade is through the Bi-National Commission. We have a vehicle, the Bi-National Commission. Just recently Nigeria’s Vice President, Architect Namadi Sambo, was there to discuss this,” Mamabolo said.
Expatiating further, the envoy disclosed that that the last Bi-National Commission which was held in June gave a very good indication that both countries realises that whatever has been happening in the past, they do need each other and that what should be focused on is how to consolidate on the existing cordial relations to the nations’ and continental political, social, economic and cultural benefits .
On the crude oil import prospects, Mamabolo explained: “We will try and improve on the bilateral trade volume in the years ahead, but it is not good to base the volume on mere speculation. But there is a great potential here. For example, there is one announcement that was made during the Bi-National Commission forum is that South Africa must begin to look towards Nigeria for its oil and crude oil.
“Now that is going to make a huge difference it terms of the volume of trade because as you know, Iran and many other countries are probably going to be under sanctions and so on. And so Nigeria will be our focus in terms of where we get oil and all that and that is going to increase our bilateral trade volume. But I cannot for now say by what magnitude but I can tell you is going to be huge if we begin to focus on buying oil from Nigeria and so on, it will be huge.”