nigeria
Image from aljazeera.com

Jacob Zuma; South Africa’s president visited Nigeria last week for one reason; to fix some issues between Africa’s 2 economic leaders.  For years, Nigeria and South Africa experience friction as they compete politically and economically. And even the election of a new Nigeria President; Muhamadu Buhari did not resolve the problem.

In the course of Zuma’s visit, Buhari forgot diplomacy and blamed South Africa’s biggest company for neglecting to take part in the country’s battle against Boko Haram uprising.

MTN, a telecom giant, was penalized to around $3.9 billion dollars. This is because they were not able to meet the set deadline to cut off 5.1 million SIM cards that were unregistered. This is a legal requirement intended to stop the rebellious Islamists.

“MTN was very sluggish in following the country’s mandate to disconnect the unregistered lines used for communication by terrorists. This caused a lot of casualties in the country”, Buhari said. “We are not after the penalty of MTN but we are only concern on our security”, he added.

MTN is a South African Company operating in Nigeria. On top of this, Sun International; South African Hotel and resort chain group is also a target of investigation by Nigeria’s economic financial crimes commission.

“For the past 3 decades, we have been doing very well in running our business over many countries. However, the challenges we encounter in Nigeria are unparalleled”, Sun International’s General Manager; Michael Farr said. “We are currently weighing up the situation as well as our options”, he added.

Another is Johannesburg-headquartered Multichoice; Africa’s biggest satellite broadcaster was compelled to lower down its tariffs after Nigerian authorities accused them for abusing their dominant position.

Other South African companies like Truworths cothing retailer also stopped operating in Nigeria altogether.

“We decided to close all of our 4 stores in Nigeria since we can no longer send stocks to this country because of their regulations”, Trustworths CEO; Michael Mark said.

In 2014, Nigeria has become a leader in the continent’s economy, even overtaking South Africa. 120 companies from South Africa are operating in Nigeria.

“Some perceived the cause of issues of South African companies operating in Nigeria to root from envy of Nigeria’s local competitors”, analyst Peter Fabricius said. “However, to many of Nigerians, MTN is rightfully fined because of its negligence in following the mandate of Nigerian government”, he added.

“South African companies are not being targeted. They just need to follow the laws imposed by the government wherever country they operate. And this is applicable to any companies even those not coming from South Africa”, Muda Yussuf, Lagos Chamber of Commerce Director General said. “What happened to MTN can also happen to any Nigerian Company. But Zuma’s visit only shows that there is no cold war existing between South Africa and Nigeria”, he added.