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 impact 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

South Africa was one of the African countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. The very strict lockdown that was imposed to contain the disease had massive social and economic repercussions. Unemployment rose to about 35 per cent, and the economy shrank by more than 6 per cent in 2020. The country is recovering only very slowly.


German development cooperation with South Africa

The development partnership between Germany and South Africa is aimed at helping the country to overcome the development challenges that still persist, especially in the areas of good governance, energy, health, vocational education and violence prevention. 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.

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
    Areas of intervention: Good governance, and peacebuilding and conflict prevention
  • Sustainable economic development, training and employment
    Area of intervention: Technical and vocational education and training (TVET)

In addition, Germany and South Africa are also cooperating in the area of “Health, pandemics and One Health”.

At the government negotiations between the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the South African government in October 2022, a total of 355 million euros was pledged for bilateral development cooperation over two years. As much as 320 million euros is earmarked for projects supporting a socially just energy transition in South Africa, of which 270 million euros will be provided as low-interest loans and 50 million euros as a grant.

Additional grants amounting to 35 million euros will support projects in South Africa that foster technical and vocational education and training, combat corruption, prevent violence and promote vaccine production and logistics.

Wind turbines in South Africa

Core area “Climate and energy, just transition” Supporting a socially just transition Internal link

South Africa is experiencing an energy crisis. The power supply has to be switched off for up to 12 hours a day. A national state of disaster was even temporarily declared. The energy infrastructure is in poor repair – a result of decades of underinvestment and criminal activities. The crisis is having a devastating impact on the country’s population and its economic development. Germany is supporting its partner country in effecting a socially just energy transition.

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 young people in South Africa under the age of 25 are unemployed. At the same time, companies are having difficulty filling vacant posts because of a lack of skilled 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

Area of intervention “Health, pandemics and One 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. So far, only a very small proportion of the vaccines used in Africa has been produced locally.

Current situation

As at: 25/08/2023