By: Maxime Seguin
The fact that Nigeria is not part of BRICS (but South Africa is) should not, by any means, diminish its importance within the developing world. Interestingly, but perhaps unsurprisingly, Nigeria is expected to outperform South Africa in the year 2014 to become Africa’s most thriving economy. This has spurred Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, into action by reevaluating and reemphasizing the need for enhanced trade at the South African Customs Union (SACU).
Despite SACU being established in 1990 (thus making it one of the oldest institutions of its kind) only 12% of trade of African countries happens with their fellow African states. Poor infrastructures remain largely responsible for this poor performance. The African governments are aware of this but still are unable to completely focus on areas of development as some are plagued by civil wars (e.g., Central African Republic), religious extremism (e.g., Nigeria) and intense violence between newly created states (e.g., Sudan and South Sudan). Nigeria, which has the fastest growing population (most of this growth is located in Lagos) is and will continue to suffer from poor infrastructure as the government is unable to keep up.
The World Trade Organization has facilitated a trade deal worth 1 trillion dollars among 159 countries in December 2013 yet most of the trade will actually occur with the European and North American countries. Nigeria and South Africa, as Africa’s two most powerful economies, have a responsibility to ensure that African states benefit from this!