Danladi Verheijen, co-founder and chief executive officer of Verod Capital Management in Nigeria and a Young Global Leader. Picture: Boniswa Mohale

Durban - Should two of the continents strongest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, work together, Africa has the potential to overcome poverty.

Businessmen from these two countries, speaking at the World Economic Forum Africa session on Nigeria and South Africa relations at the Durban ICC Wednesday afternoon, said increased collaboration and support was key to making this happen.

Kuseni Dlamini, chairman of Massmart Holdings in SA and a Young Global Leader, said with the cooperation between the countries, inter-continental trade can be increased by 20 percent.

"This has the potential to reduce poverty. Yes there are issues but we need to look beyond the ratings and the downgrades and focus on an investment recovery plan so that the whole continent benefits," said Dlamini.

He added that investment in small to medium term businesses was where growth can be created.

"We need to give these businesses access to credit and help them grow. It's easy to look to big business but we will see more growth in this area. If South Africa and Nigeria collaborate the challenges facing Africa will be a problem of the past and we can become a first world continent in a generation," he said.

His counterpart in Nigeria, Danladi Verheijen, also a Young Global Leader and co-founder and chief executive officer of Verod Capital Management said Nigeria had one of the fastest growing economies.

"At one point Nigeria was one of the world's top consumers of champagne. We were a highly consumer driven market. South Africa can find growing markets in Nigeria and in turn Nigeria can find skilled labour from South Africa," he said. 

The panellists, which also included Haruki Hayashi, executive vice president and regional CEO of Mitsubishi Corporation, concurred that there should be greater investment in both countries to ensure their economies strenghtened for the sake of the continent.