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Zuma tries to place Eskom in positive light to Nigeria

Eskom is mocked as “Eishkom” in South Africa but President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday told Nigeria’s parliament the electricity utility had something to teach them.

Both countries have erratic power supply to business and individual customers. Eskom is maligned for failing to ensure adequate maintenance and investment in its infrastructure‚ which has led to compulsory electricity cuts known locally as load-shedding.

This is compounded by ageing municipal infrastructure and cable theft‚ which also results in frequent‚ ongoing suburb-based outages.

But on Tuesday‚ Zuma told Nigerian MPs in Abuja: “Our experience in electricity generation can also be tapped into‚ to assist in Nigeria’s electricity generation”.

The president was on the charm-offensive‚ promoting bilateral economic relations between the two countries‚ which he said had significantly improved in the last 16 years.

More than 120 South African companies operate in Nigeria currently‚ a huge growth from a mere four companies in 1999‚ he said.

“Nonetheless‚ there is room for greater business to business engagements particularly in the areas Nigeria has identified as potential growth sectors. These include the diversification of the economy‚ namely electricity generation and supply‚ agriculture and agro-processing‚ tourism development including the hospitality sector‚ mining‚ banking‚ infrastructure development‚ aviation‚ manufacturing and the automotive sector.”

Nigeria and South Africa should break away from the colonial legacy that turned Africa into providers of primary commodities and recipients of processed goods‚ said Zuma.

“This is important because the current state of affairs makes Africa vulnerable to the volatilities of the international economy that sustains the uneven terms of trade.

“We must strive for the diversification of our economies‚ so as to cast the net wide enough to create more job opportunities for our people‚ to improve their living conditions and grow our economies through domestic resources in the first instance.”

In particular‚ Zuma said‚ manufacturing plants should be brought closer to the sources of raw materials. “South Africa and Nigeria can to a large extent complement each other towards the achievement of this.”

“The current global economic climate‚ as the previous global economic crisis‚ has exposed the vulnerability of our economies and currencies and thus calls for concerted efforts toward South-south and intra-Africa cooperation.”

The post-2015 development agenda‚ the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)‚ needed to be led from the front by collaboration between South Africa and Nigeria on behalf of Africa‚ as the biggest economies on the continent‚ Zuma said.


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