International Development Efforts of South Africa

By | March 24, 2021

Cover of the SACU information brochure

Cover of the SACU information brochure

When compared with international development cooperation, there are special relationships between South Africa and the European Union. The Agreement on Trade, Development and Cooperation (TDCA) has implications for the countries of the “Southern African Customs Union” (SACU), which includes South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini (Swaziland).

Non-SACU countries are faced with strong competition from highly subsidized agricultural products from the EU. The years of negotiations on controversial EPA agreements on economic partnerships between the EU and ACP countries were accompanied by the civil society campaign StopEpa.

Chinese shop in Johannesburg

Chinese shop in Johannesburg

A trade promotion agreement (African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA) has been concluded with the USA, with which South Africa traditionally has good economic relations.

In South Africa, too, the Asian and Arab countries are playing an increasingly important role. China in particular is conquering the African market. South Africa is China’s most important trading partner on the continent. On the fringes of the China-Africa summit in Beijing in December 2006, Chinese companies concluded their first investment agreements with South Africa, which have since been expanded and intensified. In December 2015, South Africa hosted the VI. FOCAC forum. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was a guest at the FOCAC Forum in Beijing in early September 2018. The Center for China Research at Stellenbosch University also provides information on the relationship between China and South Africa.

According to its own self-image, in the cooperation with China, South Africa has taken on the role of the continent to integrate cooperation with China more closely into the African Union (AU). Nonetheless, the former President Mbeki warned against “colonial relations” with China if Africa only supplies raw materials to China and imports finished goods.

The United Nations Development Program UNDP is an important multilateral partner in promoting South Africa’s development goals. As a major country in African continent according to puterdo, South Africa is also a member of the African Union (AU), the UN, the Commonwealth, the IMF and the World Bank. How the role of South Africa and Germany with a view to the 2030 Agenda and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals is assessed from the South African point of view is discussed by the research institute SAIIA.

Other important partners of South Africa – also in the area of development cooperation – are the European Union, and on a bilateral level, the USA, Great Britain and France, among others.

German development cooperation

Young man at a farmers' meeting in a rural development project

Young man at a farmers’ meeting in a rural development project

The Federal Republic of Germany has accompanied the reform process in South Africa since 1992 through state development cooperation. After the first free elections in 1994, government negotiations on cooperation took place almost every year. The German-South African Binational Commission, which has been taking place since 1996, offers a framework for cooperation. The foreign ministers of both countries chair the binational commission, which meets every two years. On March 20, 2020 – due to the Corona crisis – a virtual meeting in the form of a video conference took place.

Current state development cooperation focuses on: energy and climate, governance and public administration, vocational training and HIV / AIDS prevention. According to the IATI project data (BMZ data), the German bilateral funds for development cooperation with South Africa financed by the BMZ amounted to 914.40 million euros for bilateral development cooperation between January 1, 2013 and June 26, 2020. The Federal Foreign Office offers further information on relations between South Africa and Germany.

The Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), as an implementing organization in government development cooperation, implements targeted projects to improve governance and public administration, energy and climate policy, vocational training and HIV / AIDS prevention. The range of tasks also includes promoting education and youth as well as strengthening cooperation at different levels and regional integration. In addition to GIZ, KfW Development Bank is also represented in South Africa.

South Africa also plays a central role in new development partnerships.

Several federal states have established partnerships with South African provinces and are carrying out their own development and economic cooperation projects there. These include Baden-Württemberg with KwaZulu-Natal and Lower Saxony with the Eastern Cape. The partnership between Bavaria and Gauteng and the Western Cape Province should also be mentioned. On the basis of the NRW-Mpumalanga partnership, the Mpumalanga Forum NRW was founded in 2001, which advocates sustainable development and at the end of 2011 it will be a 10-year cooperation could look back. In the meantime it has expanded into the South Africa Forum NRW. In the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, partnerships are maintained between local (technical) universities and South African technical universities. There are also numerous city partnerships, for example between Aachen and Cape Town; The climate ticket is revealing for this partnership. In the twinning between Oldenburg in Lower Saxony and East London (Buffalo Metropolitan Municipality) in the Eastern Cape, measures were taken in response to climate change.

Particularly noteworthy is the Southern Africa Initiative (INISA), in which young people in particular are involved, organize political discussions and collect money for scholarships from South African students. The work of SAGE Net, the German-South African network for sustainable and social development, the German-South African Youth Office, a sending organization for volunteers and interns, which cooperates with Weltwärts, for example, and Masifunde, which focuses primarily on the commitment of young people, is also remarkable in South African (educational) projects. Various organizations also offer work camps for active participation in South African projects. Church congregations, schools, cultural initiatives such as Exile or the Children’s Culture Caravan and other social groups also maintain partnerships with South African initiatives and associations. Universities in Germany and South Africa maintain scientific collaborations, for example on urbanization and the developmental consequences of climate change.