The South African Government has extended a hand of fellowship to the Lagos State Government in the areas of tourism and entertainment. The South African Consul- General Mr. Darkey Africa disclosed this during his recent courtesy call on the Governor of Lagos State Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the Statehouse, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.
Africa, who was in company of other officers from the Consulate, informed the governor of an earlier effort to work out a memorandum of understanding between the Gauteng Province and the city of Lagos, with the aim of cementing relationship between South Africa and Nigeria.
“We value the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa very much and we would want to see more activities, particularly at the economic level; at the creative industry level, entertainment level and tourism. We also bring you a request by the Premier of Gauteng Province in South Africa; previously, we had entered into some discussion about the signing of a memorandum between Gauteng and Lagos. We believe that, if we can do that, it will enhance the positive narrative that we want to characterize the relationship between the two countries.”
In his response, Governor Sanwo-Olu thanked the Consul-General for the initiative, assuring that the Lagos State Government will work out modalities for the relationship through the Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture as soon as the cabinet is constituted.
“We are willing and looking forward to such collaboration, especially if they are also of economic tendencies. On the issue regarding Nollywood and the entertainment industry, that is a sector that we believe it’s time for them to fly out; it’s time for them to look for new boarders. South Africa, like you said, we would collaborate; we will try and organise them to see if we can create enabling environment for the two industries to engage.”
Currently, the West Africa office of the South African Tourism (SAT) is the only physical office the agency has in the continent, which shows the importance of the Nigerian market.
In a recent interview with the Head West Africa for South African Tourism (SAT), Thekiso Rakolojane, he observed that the brotherhood between Nigeria and South Africa goes way back in history.
“If you are one that engages in social media, you would notice there’s almost even a new social media lingo that is forming between Nigerians and South Africans, where they’ve got commonalities; the engagements have become much more cordial. There’s an exchange of experiences, history; just days to day people sharing their lives and creating this digital interconnectivity. And for me, that’s a direct link to the strengthening relationships between both countries.”
He continued: “So, it becomes quite critical to ensure that those relationships become symbiotic as well; that South Africans are welcoming when Nigerians visit South Africa. So, it’s something that as South African Tourism, we facilitate through our campaigns. In our campaigns, it’s about us welcoming Nigerians and indulging them. If they are coming into our country, they are our guests; we want to make sure that they having a positive experience.”
Though the West African market is of great importance to SAT, Nigeria remains a major contributor to the market.
“Just to give you an indication of numbers, in terms of tourist arrival into South Africa, the continent contributes just over 72 per cent; a big percentage of that comes obviously from the surrounding markets, countries with closer proximity to South Africa. However, what we call our air market, which is where people have to fly into South Africa, Nigeria is by far the biggest contributor to those arrivals into our country. Because of that and the economic impact Nigerians have on South Africa, it therefore necessitated that we open an office here and I can assure you it’s going to be like that for the longest of time,” Rakolojane said.