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Nigeria, South Africa address xenophobic concerns, sign trade deals

In September, mobs armed with makeshift weapons attacked businesses and homes owned by foreigners, leading to at least 10 deaths, dozens of injuries and up to 400 arrests.

In response Nigeria repatriated around 600 of its citizens living in South Africa.

The local units of South African telecoms company MTN and supermarket chain Shoprite closed all stores and service centres in Nigeria after their premises were attacked by Nigerians protesting against attacks on their compatriots in South Africa.

Nigeria accounts for 64 percent of South Africa’s total trade with the West African Region and is one of its largest trading partners on the continent.

Buhari, Ramaphosa address xenophobia

Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa and Muhammadu Buhari, at the conclusion of a two-day visit by the Nigerian leader, said they regretted the violence and subsequent retaliation in Nigeria against South African businesses, pledging instead to deepen trade ties.

“As the government of South Africa, we have expressed our deep regret at the attacks directed at foreign nationals and our condemnation of all forms of intolerance and acts of violence,” Ramaphosa told journalists.

Buhari said beyond the economic partnership the anti-foreigner violence had to be addressed quickly.

“We decided to take concrete measures to prevent the recurrence of such unacceptable incidents in the future,” Buhari said.

Buhari leaves for South Africa

Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday travelled to South Africa, to resolve the issue of the welfare of Nigerians.

In a statement posted by the Nigerian presidency on Tuesday, it was announced that Buhari would meet Nigerians living in South Africa, preside over the South Africa-Nigeria bi-National Commission and participate at a South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum.

Buhari’s visit follows a spate of xenophobic attacks in South Africans cities that targeted foreign nationals including Nigerians.

Both governments sent special envoys to manage the diplomatic fallouts from the attacks, even as Nigeria’s government organised evacuations of its nationals that were no longer at ease in South Africa.

‘‘Buhari will hold a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in the country, with a view to sharing in their experiences and reassuring them of Nigerian government’s commitment to working for the protection of their lives and property and promoting peaceful co-existence,’‘ read part of the statement.

The violence in South Africa had stoked concerns about relations between Africa’s two biggest economies.

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