Misery loves company. Africa’s two biggest economic rivals — South Africa and Nigeria — are turning to each other as they fall on tough times.
South Africa’s economy is threatened with recession as demand from China, its main trading partner, weakens and commodity prices plunge, while Nigeria has been hit by a collapse in oil revenue. To weather the global storm, the two countries are seeking closer trade and investment ties when South African President Jacob Zuma leads a high-level delegation of ministers and business executives to Nigeria on Tuesday. In the process, he may rebuild a relationship that’s come under diplomatic strain in the past.
Nigeria may be Africa’s largest economy — having overtaken South Africa in 2014 after the data was overhauled — but South Africa still dominates because of better power and transport infrastructure, a sophisticated financial services industry and a more diversified economy. Both economies are now under pressure, with growth slowing to 1.3 percent in South Africa last year and reaching a 16-year low of 3.3 percent in Nigeria, according to the World Bank. Read more