By Chris Ndibe
The Consul General of Nigeria to South Africa, Mr Abdulmalik Ahmed, says Nigeria’s yearly exports to South Africa are in excess of $3.8 billion, making her Nigeria’s biggest trading partner on the continent.
“Though dominated by oil, Nigeria’s export to South Africa is an excess of $3.8 billion annually. That represents about 6.3 per cent of the country’s total exports.
Ahmed, who disclosed this at a press conference on Friday in Johannesburg, added that similarly, South African exports to Nigeria in 2018 was worth $4.8 billion.
Recalling the inaugural flight of Air Peace on Dec. 17 to South Africa, the envoy noted that the route launch could help improve foreign inflows and encourage investment.
“The Lagos- Johannesburg route was serviced by Air Arik and South African Airways but unfortunately, both airlines could not sustain operations on the routes. It is against this background that Air Peace is entering the market”, he said.
“Nigeria provides a favourable business environment and a large market for a wide range of South Africa companies, including MTN, Multichoice, Shoprite, Protea hotels and more.
Ahmed was of the view that by establishing more businesses in South Africa, Nigerians could quell xenophobic attacks, stressing, “I will like to take this opportunity to call upon Nigerian corporate entities to follow the lead of Air Peace and take advantage of the huge investment opportunities in South Africa.
“The dearth of Nigerian corporate entities here compared to a large number of South Africa entities in Nigeria does not reflect the spirit of industry of our people.
“An increase in corporate presence can be a weapon in the fight against xenophobia. We, at the consulate, are ever ready to facilitate the process of your arrival,” he said.
Similarly, the Chief Operating Officer, Airports Company, South Africa, Mrs Fundi Sithe commended the airline for flying into their flagship airport, Oliver Tambo International Airport.
She noted that the number of passengers on the return trip showed that the route was much awaited, saying: “Yesterday (Dec.17), we saw that the inaugural flight arrived at Oliver Tambo International Airport on-time.
“It arrived with 85 passengers on board and departed later on with an estimated 207 passengers. That is quite significant because the difference tells us that there is a level of demand that has not been serviced.
The airport manager expressed the hope for more frequent flights and possibly a direct route to Durban or Capetown, soon.
Chief Operating Officer of Air Peace, Mrs Toyin Olajide, disclosed that the airline was expecting three aircraft to boost its domestic and regional operations.
She said more international routes to destinations such as Houston-USA, Mumbai-India, Guangzhou-China and London, were being considered.