Sunrise in Johannesburg

South Africa Global development partner with great potential

South Africa calls itself the Rainbow Nation, in reference to its ethnic and cultural diversity. Until the end of the apartheid regime in 1994, South Africa had been shunned by the international community for a long time due to its systematic racist repression of the majority population. The impacts of that period can still be felt today.

Straight to
Traffic on the N1 between Pretoria and Johannesburg in South Africa
South Africa has since developed into a stable democracy. The constitution it adopted in 1997 is very progressive. It contains, among other things, a comprehensive catalogue of human rights. The country has a free media and an active civil society.

The World Bank classifies South Africa as an upper-middle-income country. Yet the country is currently ranked just 109th out of 191 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI).

COVID-19 pandemic

So far, no country in Africa has been hit as hard by the COVID-19 crisis as South Africa. A very strict lockdown that was imposed to contain this infectious disease caused massive social and economic impacts. Unemployment rose to about 35 per cent, and economic growth fell by more than six per cent in 2020. In the quarters that followed, the economy saw a short recovery, until growth decreased again when the Omicron variant hit.

German development cooperation with South Africa

The development partnership between Germany and South Africa is aimed at helping the country overcome the development challenges that still persist, especially in the areas of good governance, energy, health, vocational education and prevention of violence. The other aim of the two countries' cooperation is to support global climate action efforts and strengthen South Africa's important role for democracy, peace and stability on the African continent.

For 2021, the German government made an interim commitment of 91 million euros. Of this, 40 million euros is intended for efforts to promote the production of hydrogen (funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action); 51 million euros has been earmarked for the development of vaccine production and logistics.

South African-German development cooperation focuses on the following core areas:

  • Climate and energy, just transition
    Area of intervention: renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Peaceful and inclusive societies
    Area of intervention: good governance and prevention of violence
  • Sustainable economic development, training and employment
    Area of intervention: Technical and vocational education and training; labour market
  • Cooperation outside the core areas: Health
    Area of intervention: vaccine production
Wind turbines in South Africa

Core area “Climate and energy, just transition” Generating more electricity from wind and sun Internal link

South Africa has been faced with inadequate energy supplies for many years. At the same time, it needs to transform its power generation sector in order to achieve the international climate goals. Currently, more than 90 per cent of the country's power generation is coal-based. Germany supports South Africa in the modernisation of energy generation and climate protection.

View of the government building in Pretoria

Core area “Peaceful and inclusive societies” Establishing an efficient public administration Internal link

Good governance is an important precondition for sustainable development. However, government and administrative activities in South Africa are made more difficult by a lack of skilled staff and by inefficiency – not just at national level but also in the provinces and districts. German development cooperation is therefore helping South Africa to create an efficient public administration system.

Trainees at a technical training centre in Soweto

Core area “Sustainable economic development, training and employment” Creating employment opportunities Internal link

More than half of South African young people under 25 are unemployed. At the same time, companies cannot fill vacancies because there are not enough qualified workers. Germany is therefore supporting a pilot project for dual training in South Africa and helping to qualify skilled workers for “green” technologies.

Vaccine against Covid-19

Cooperation outside the core areas: Health Developing vaccine production capacity Internal link

In order to achieve a more just distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe, Germany supports COVAX, the international vaccine initiative. The German government also provides support for the development of production capacity worldwide, focusing on South Africa, Ghana and Senegal.

Current situation

Traffic on the N1 between Pretoria and Johannesburg in South Africa
People in a slum on the outskirts of Cape Town
Orange processing plant in South Africa

As at: 27/12/2022