South African president Jacob Zuma is on a two-day state visit to Nigeria, a move that analysts see as an attempt to improve soured relations between the two African economic giants.
During the visit, Zuma is expected to address the Joint Session of the National Assembly of Nigeria, and will together with President Muhammadu Buhari address the South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum.
Additionally, the two presidents are expected to hold discussions over the 3.9 billion dollar penalty handed to South Africa’s telecom giant MTN, for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards in Nigeria.
There have also been official criticisms of Nigeria’s response to a deadly building collapse in Lagos in 2014 in which 81 of the 116 victims were South African nationals.
On the Nigerian side, there have been complaints about South African visa restrictions, while in April last year the two nations became embroiled in a spat over the recall of Nigeria’s two top diplomats.
According to Clayson Monyela, South Africa’s head of Public Diplomacy, the South African government believes the visit will send a powerful political message to the continent.
“This will inject new life and energy into this important strategic relationship between the two countries and resolve the perceived tensions,” he added.
Zuma is accompanied by key ministers in his government as well as captains of industry, a move that analysts see as as a sign to resolve mutual complaints and possible deals to help Nigeria diversify its economy away from oil.