With a South African mother and a Nigerian father, I am fortunate enough to be exposed to the best of both countries and cultures. As such, I can clearly imagine the benefits that the two nations have when they come together and work toward common goals.
South Africa and Nigeria each have a rich culture and a wealth of human talents, skills and resources to themselves. And both can only become stronger and progress faster as these different nations join forces to work towards common goals. The goal should be to use the strengths of the other for the benefit of the entire African continent instead of being threatened or criticized.
It is time for a new era of cooperation and integration
to get rid of the straitjackets of the past, which limit the forward movement and cooperation of these two influential African countries. It is long overdue for a major and widespread shift in perspective, with Nigeria and South Africa seeing themselves as African partners within the global community.
Not only is this a desirable approach, but it can begin fairly quickly and tangibly. Both countries are open to a new era of cooperation and integration. This will initiate efforts to understand the different cultural values, skills, assets, economic values and other positive elements of both countries.
Some ways in which these objectives can be achieved in practice include the following:
- Use of the Existing Binational Commission (consisting of members from various age groups, genders, social and cultural backgrounds, regions and viewpoints) to their fullest To exploit potential.
- Harness the strength of the African Diaspora for knowledge and understanding of the local environment in Nigeria and South Africa
- Build a framework for sharing important news and success stories between the two countries, in which positive aspects and achievements are expressed brought and cultures of both countries.
- Establishment of journalism academies in Nigeria and South Africa, which enable the exchange of expertise and knowledge. Take, for example, a group of journalists from South Africa to Nigeria (and vice versa) and put them in contact with business, the public and the lifestyle.
- Do not discriminate on the grounds of nationality, but fully use qualified migrant workers. It may be necessary to revise corporate policies in order to achieve greater involvement.
- From the government's perspective, visa application procedures should be improved and permits for work permits accelerated.
- Both countries should leverage their expertise and infrastructure strengths, expertise in different sectors and natural resources.
- Innovation Centers should be set up (eg Nigeria's Computer Village) and some or all of the proceeds invested in Youth and Knowledge Development Initiatives (eg Digital Sugar Development Projects by Mark Zuckerberg and Google) in Nigeria).
- Coordinated road shows on the historical links between Nigeria and South Africa. This will explain to the inhabitants of each country the role of the other country in shaping their landscape (eg highlighting the financial and political support Nigeria has given South Africa in the fight against apartheid).
- Private sector collaboration (eg pooling) South Africa's great business infrastructure and Nigeria's capabilities are optimal for maximum impact.
This vision is certainly achievable, though there are many challenges to be overcome with a common vision and common effort between the two countries. It's about changing perceptions and starting this progressive journey as quickly as possible. The tremendous opportunities that exist in such a partnership are waiting for you. And I can not wait to see what's coming for Africa in the near future.
Nonye Mpho Omotola is the managing director of the Africa Communications Media Group based in Johannesburg. She sits on fire Africa Counsel and is a respected proponent of economic growth through innovation, technology and education in Africa.