South African President Jacob Zuma will attend the inauguration of Nigeria’s President-elect Mohammadu Buhari in Abuja on Friday.
“The Working Visit to Nigeria presents an ideal opportunity for President Zuma to further strengthen and consolidate historic and strategic relations between the two countries, and to discuss regional and international issues of mutual concern,” said a statement issued by Zuma’s office.
Zuma’s visit comes close at the heels of a diplomatic row that saw Nigeria recalling its envoys in Pretoria to protest attacks against African immigrants in South Africa.
Nigeria later clarified the recall was not authorized by the President and promptly suspended the official in the Foreign Ministry responsible for the action.
Together, the two economies are larger than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa’s combined.
Bilateral trade increased from R15 billion in 2009 to R42 billion in 2013.
Nigeria enjoys a surplus trade balance with South Africa, which is attributable to huge quantities of oil imports from Nigeria, the biggest oil producer in the continent.
South Africa exports vehicles, aircrafts and vessels, iron and steel products, machinery and equipment and plastics and rubber to Nigeria.
Nigeria and South Africa are the largest economies in the African continent, host to 1 billion people. However, terrorist attacks by armed group Boko Haram have slowed progress in recent months.
Current Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who will step down as president on 29 May, pledged to “hand over a Nigeria completely free of terrorist strongholds,” at a regional meeting last month.
Meanwhile, Zuma will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to Buhari’s inauguration ceremony on Friday.
The visit would be reflective of pan-Africanism and cooperation among the two African powers who also compete for economic dominance and control over Africa’s representation on the global stage.
Nigeria overtook South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy last year after re-basing its GDP.