Xenophobia threatens South African businesses in the continent

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If our people can’t live and work there, their businesses should also not operate here. That was the message of the angry Nigerians that stormed the South African High Commission in Abuja, yesterday, threatening to shut down South African companies in Nigeria as xenophobic attacks continue in South Africa.

The Nigerian Consul-General in South Africa, Ambassador Uche Ajulu-Okeke had said that the loss by Nigerians in the attacks included looted shops, burnt shops, two burnt mechanic shops, 11 burnt cars and two stolen cars among others.

Reacting to the xenophobic attacks, angry Nigerians protested in Abuja and Benin City.

South Africa’s cabinet warned on Friday that companies operating in the rest of Africa may be targeted, just as Johannesburg-based Sasol Ltd. announced it was repatriating South African employees working on projects in Mozambique for their own safety.

In Nigeria, the newly-elected All People’s Congress (APC) together with civil society handed a memorandum to the South African embassy in Lagos on Wednesday, giving the government 48 hours to stop the violence, or else South African businesses in Nigeria would be shut down.

It puts businesses such as MTN, Shoprite, Pick n Pay and Multichoice in a tight spot, as their African operations contribute significantly to company revenues.

In MTN’s case, for example, the company has twice as many subscribers in Nigeria than it does in South Africa, with the Nigerian operation alone contributing 37% of group revenues.

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