From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Moleboheng Matli is the CEO and Executive Producer of Mmadipotwana Media. In this interview, she spoke on the potential of Nigeria and South Africa, especially in the areas of tourism and the entertainment industries; stressing that, with sufficient use of both manpower and natural resources, the continent would no longer need European investment to economically develop Africa.
The South African, who is also the Editor-in-Chief of SouthGerian Lifestyle Magazine, recently launched in Abuja, spoke on her plans to change the negative narrative of Africa and put an end to xenophobia.
From Okwe Obi, Abuja
You recently launched a magazine named SouthGerian. What is it about?
It is imperative that Nigeria and South Africa unite and know each other. So, our focus is to promote Nigeria-South Africa relations, focusing on the entertainment industry and trade relations across the board, because we are the two most powerful economies on the continent. So, SouthGerian is all about creating a bridge for us to work as one country in unity. Most importantly, helping ourselves economically.
How long have you been in Nigeria?
I have been in Nigeria for twelve years now, in and out, bu incorporated officially, I think about five years ago. I have gone vastly into Nigeria from the northern states into the eastern states. Nigeria is a beautiful country to work in. Nigerians are amazing people to work with and the opportunities in Nigeria are endless. So, you are going to be seeing a whole lot of South Africans coming into the market because it is a beautiful country. They say good people, great nation.
What area(s) do you intend to focus on?
Tourism is the area of focus. You know that South Africa derives about 3.6 of its GDP from tourism. We are well advanced in terms of tourism, while Nigeria has about 90 per cent landscape of tourism that is untouched. Now, we are talking job creation and we are also talking about skills acquisition. We can truly drive tourism in Nigeria. Speaking of tourism in Nigeria, we have already addressed the entertainment industry in terms of location. So, when you talk about tourism, you are talking about health tourism and eco-tourism. In fact, it is endless. You have the only rain forest still within the continent. When tourism is concerned, you cannot stop Nigeria because it is the way to go.
Apart from tourism, do you have other areas you would want to delve into?
We just launched the SouthGerian Lifestyle. it is a new division of Mmedipotwana in partnership with Swift Angel Production. We launched it officially in Nigeria. We are looking forward to doing collaboration in the fashion industry, in the film industry and doing trade relations. But our passion is youth development. Our focus on the youth is heritage, education and exchange of programmes. We want to bring South African youth to Nigeria, for them to learn about the history of Nigeria and take Nigerian youth to South African to also learn about the power of the transformation of their country because, I think it is quite misunderstood that South Africa did not get its liberation on its own. A lot of African countries, including Nigeria, contributed to our liberation. And, if we can start educating the youth, we will be starting to eradicate the stereotypes and completely getting rid of things like xenophobia.
In monetary terms, how much can be generated from the initiative, especially in job creation?
I do not think you can quantify job creation in naira or dollars. I can tell you that the number of jobs to be created will never be enough. But we will empower enough youths and create enough wealth to start transforming the economy and empower women and youths, specifically.
Apart from the magazine, what other platforms do you intend to deploy in order to fortify the unity between South Africa and Nigeria?
SouthGerian is a brand. The magazine is just one part of it. As I said, we will do trade investments. We are also going to be looking at business matchmaking. We will be looking at business to business and models where we can collaborate and drive the economy. We are looking at launching the SouthGerian Radio, which is another form of communication in uniting ourselves. We are also launching SouthGerian TV very soon. So, I think it is more content and more content. Remember that two thing we can do is infotainment and edutainment; meaning you educate, you entertain and you inform. I believe that the continent is changing. So, when we educate ourselves and entertain ourselves we can change the narrative.
Nigeria and South Africa have been having this lingering fracas, in terms of xenophobia. How do you intend to use your magazine to preach oneness?
Look, I think our countries have that advantage of trade agreements. The amount that have been traded between South Africa and Nigeria put us at an added advantage. In SouthGerian, we are spearheading intentional collaboration within different spectrums. And going forward, we believe that you cannot kill an elephant in one day. So, we just have to be realistic in terms of what can be done. But, the first step is the right step in changing the situation. So, I will go back to the youth, youth empowerment is the right way to go.
What is your message to South Africans and Nigerians?
Nigeria, South Africa, Africa, SouthGerian is here to stay. It is a bridge created for us to hold hands. For me, we can transform our continent. Truly, we can change the narrative but it is going to take you, take me and everybody around us to sing one song of unity. When I am talking of song, I am not talking about writing the lyrics down. I am talking about the change of mindset, change of our approach and let us start paying attention to what we need on the continent. Without love, we cannot achieve anything. Love in itself is not enough unless we step out of our comfort zone and fight to be one. Unless I tell you that I am a South African you would not even know because Nigerians are good with people. Same also with South Africans. I challenge you as my people; it is time we change our stance to celebrate Africa because if 55 countries can stand together there would be no European investment or Asian investment needed. They need us, we do not need them.
What is your partnership like with the Bauchi State Government?
We are proud to announce that we have been working with Bauchi State which is known as the Pearl of Tourism. But our focus is on the Yankari Games Reserve. We will like to bring in South African investors to manage the park and to see how we can collaborate and expand it for job creation and skills acquisition. If you look at Bauchi State holistically there is so much work to be done. One thing we love about Bauchi State is the fact that it is in the north. It is actually one of the safest states. So, we want to start promoting the state by communicating its safety despite it being in the north, because, oftentimes, we assume that northern states are unsafe. Of course, we know that there are a lot of issues within the northern states. But we know that not every state is directly involved in the issues. So, Bauchi State is ready for investment, and SouthGerian and Mmedipotwana Media, South Africa are ready also to come and work with the state. It has good leadership under the current governor, Bala Mohammed.
How much can the Bauchi State Government generate from tourism?
We are looking at over, probably, 500,000 or even a million US dollars that can be generated within the first 24 months on tourism investment in terms of jobs. I believe Bauchi, through Yankari and a few other tourism initiatives, can create a thousand jobs immediately. Do not forget that tourism is very broad.
Tell us more about your collaboration with Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation?
Oh! we love the Foundation, especially on malaria awareness. But more than anything, we love tourism. Prince Ned Nwoko is passionate about tourism. He is looking at creating a platform where Africans can travel around the continent so that Africans who have never been to certain African countries can be taken there and explore the continent. So, when you speak of tourism, you are talking about culture and education. We believe that tourism with Ned Nwoko will bring South Africans into Nigeria and take Nigerians to South Africa. We believe that nobody should die of malaria anymore. We can do that.
How viable is it to lockdown the entire country for fumigation?
I believe that with the right cooperation it can be done. I believe that if the country is divided into regions like shutting down a particular part, maybe the west you lock them up and fumigate before going to another. We have been locked down under COVID-19, why not lockdown for malaria?