By Felix Onuah
ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu held talks with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in New York, seeking to advance economic cooperation between the two largest economies in Africa, his spokesperson said on Monday.
The two African leaders met ahead of the United Nations General Assembly that is scheduled to start this week, they said in a joint statement.
“We can collaborate in a mutually beneficial way that enriches our populations,” Tinubu said, adding that both countries can cooperate in the mining and telecommunications industries to help “deliver jobs”.
Tinubu has embarked on Nigeria’s boldest reforms in decades, scrapping a popular but expensive petrol subsidy and lifting foreign exchange trading curbs. He has pledged to revive an economy struggling with record debt, anaemic growth and double-digit inflation.
President Ramaphosa hailed Tinubu’s “brave” economic reforms and pledged that South Africa will explore greater partnership with Nigeria.
“We are two major economies on our continent, and it is important that we deepen economic ties, particularly in light of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement,” Ramaphosa said .
“We would love to see Nigeria and South Africa working closely together on a number of issues because whenever we join hands, we have made an impact globally through those joint positions,” he said.
Tinubu also urged South Africa to join Nigeria in a call for reforms of global finance institutions to help Africa combat rising poverty and economic woes.
“We must join hands and agree that International Finance Institutions require reform as Africa is not to be a ground for economic scavenging any longer, but it is a place with gifted people that is ready for investment and cooperation,” Tinubu said.
Tinubu, attending his first U.N. General Assembly as Nigeria’s president, is also scheduled to meet U.S. President Joe Biden and executives from Microsoft, Meta and Exxon Mobil in New York in a drive to mobilize global capital to develop infrastructure.
(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo; Editing by Sonali Paul)