The Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission: A Catalyst For African Development

Posted on December 6, 2023


The Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) is a strategic partnership established between two of Africa’s economic powerhouses, Nigeria and South Africa. This bilateral cooperation aims to enhance collaboration across various sectors in both countries including trade, investment, energy, agriculture, tourism, and defense.

The BiNational Commission plays a crucial role in driving the development agenda of not only these two giant African economies but also instrumental to the advancement of the entire continent.

The establishment of the Nigeria-South Africa BiNational Commission (BNC) in 1999 marked a significant milestone in the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa. It was a result of their shared commitment to promote peace, stability, and economic development in Africa.

The BiNational Commission was formed as a framework for regular high-level consultations between Nigeria and South Africa, serving as a platform to discuss and address common challenges and explore opportunities for cooperation between both countries and their people.

One of the primary aims of the BiNational Commission is to boost bilateral trade and investment between Nigeria and South Africa. Both countries have significant economic potentials and complement each other in terms of resources and markets.

Through the BiNational Commission, they have been able to identify and address trade barriers, promote market access, and explore avenues for investment in various sectors. There is an analogy that the Africa map is shaped as a gun, with “Nigeria being the trigger and South Africa being the nuzzle” to aim and shoot Africa to economic advancement and development.

This collaboration between both economic powerhouses and it’s BiNational Commission has the potential to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and foster regional integration within Africa.

As of 2022, the combined GDP of Nigeria and South Africa was nearly $900 billion. In 2023, their combined GDP is projected to hit $1.8 trillion, accounting for over 30 percent of Africa’s total GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund and positioning them as economic leaders of the continent.

When the leaders of both countries met at the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly in New York, they were ecstatic about the economic cooperation and it’s potential. According to Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the continent’s emancipation requires strong bilateral relationships, especially between leading nations like Nigeria and South Africa.

He further said that he envisions a prosperous Africa where cooperation and collaboration between Nigeria and South Africa leads to Africa’s economic emergence, uniting the continent and showcasing it’s immense potential while his South African counterpart, President Ramaphosa said “as two major economies on the continent it is important that we deepen economic ties, particularly in light of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. We are keen on the deepening of our economic relations”.

Energy, Mining and Infrastructure Development are important and vital for Africa’s growth and development. The BiNational Commission has facilitated cooperation between Nigeria and South Africa in these sectors, leading to the exchange of technical expertise, joint research initiatives, and investment partnerships.

This collaboration has the potential to unlock Africa’s vast energy and mineral resources while improving infrastructure connectivity, thus propelling communication, trade and economic development across the continent especially in implementation of the AFCTA.

Agriculture is the backbone of many African economies and the mainstay of it’s largely rural populace which is why the BiNational Commission recognizes the importance of the agricultural sector and has promoted collaboration in this sector.

Exchange programs, knowledge sharing, and joint research initiatives have been instrumental in enhancing agricultural productivity, improving South Africa food security, and developing value chains. This collaboration allows Nigeria and South Africa to leverage their expertise and resources, benefiting not only their own economies but also the wider African population in food security and export for foreign exchange.

Nigeria and South Africa are known for their rich cultural heritage and diverse tourist attractions. The BiNational Commission has facilitated cooperation in the tourism sector, promoting cultural exchanges, and sharing best practices. This collaboration is crucial in showcasing Africa’s cultural diversity and blossoming film industry, attracting tourists, and promoting intra-African travel.

By working closely together, Nigeria and South Africa can create synergies that boost tourism revenue, create jobs, and contribute to promote sustainable development especially in the promotion of the creative sector while leveraging on the success in both countries to attract investment and development in the sector across Africa.

The Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission serves as a beacon of hope for Africa’s development and promises to prove how bilateral cooperation can lead to multilateral coalition for development. By fostering collaboration across various sectors, it has the potential to unlock Africa’s vast economic potentials, stimulate growth, create employment opportunities, and promote regional integration.

As part of the efforts to enhance bilateral relations between both countries , Nigeria’s Interior Minister, Honourable Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo received on a courtesy visit, Mr. Thamsanqa Dennis Mseleku, The High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa to Nigeria, where they shared ideas on how to collaborate for a progressive Africa agenda where technology can be adapted to solve our local problems. Such collaborations are intentional and critical towards forging a mutual cooperation between both countries.

The BiNational Commission showcases the power of African countries coming together to address common challenges and explore shared opportunities. As the partnership between Nigeria and South Africa continues to grow, the rest of the continent can look forward to reaping the benefits of this collaboration for shared prosperity and security across Africa.



Otunba Toyin Oyekanmi is the Chairman of APC South Africa Diaspora Chapter.

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