South Africa

Situation and Cooperation

Women from the Rural Women’s Assembly take to the streets in Durban.

South Africa has developed into a stable democracy since the end of the apartheid regime. Its constitution entered into force in 1997 and is one of the most progressive in the world. One element of the constitution is a com­pre­hen­sive catalogue of human rights.

However, South Africa is still grappling with a deep economic and social divide. Inequality in the popu­la­tion and the gap between rich and poor is extreme. The richest 20 per cent of the popu­la­tion account for almost 70 per cent of total income, compared to just under three per cent of total income for the poorest 20 per cent of the popu­la­tion.

More than a quarter of South Africans are currently reliant on benefits. Al­most 14 per cent of the popu­la­tion live on the equivalent of less than 1.25 US dollars a day.

Dissatisfaction is growing. Neither the numerous social transfers nor in­ter­na­tional invest­ment for the football World Cup in 2010 have led to a noticeable improve­ment in living conditions. Social struc­tures are unstable and crime is alarmingly high compared to other coun­tries. South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of murder and rape

Economic de­vel­op­ment and employment

Workers at a BMW plant in South Africa. Copyright: bpaSouth Africa is seen as the eco­nom­ic power­house of the African con­ti­nent. The coun­try ac­counts for roughly 34 per cent of the gross do­mes­tic product for all of sub-Saharan Africa. It has a robust in­dus­trial sector and an abun­dance of natural resources.

Although South Africa has re­cord­ed stable growth rates over the past ten years, these are not enough to per­ma­nent­ly solve the coun­try's social problems. Private enter­prises in par­ti­cu­lar are reluctant to invest due, among other things, to the gov­ern­ment's eco­nom­ic policy, the lack of skilled labour, energy shortages and the coun­try's high crime rate.

Under the apartheid regime, most people from the under­privileged sections of the popu­la­tion did not receive the vocational training required for the modern labour market. The skilled labour shortage is therefore now curbing the ambitious growth plans of the gov­ern­ment and the corporate sector.


The spread of HIV and AIDS is a major problem for South Africa's society and eco­no­my. Ap­prox­i­mate­ly 5.6 million people in a popu­la­tion of around 50 mil­lion are HIV-positive. Tied in with this is a tuber­cu­losis epidemic: some 70 per cent of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis suf­ferers are also living with HIV. Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis is one of the big­gest killers of AIDS patients. The South African welfare system is facing almost in­sur­mount­able problems.

The current gov­ern­ment under President Jacob Zuma is going to great lengths to contain HIV and AIDS. There has been a sharp increase in public health ex­pen­di­ture, while the scope and quality of the treat­ment given to persons living with HIV and suffering from tu­ber­cu­lo­sis has im­proved considerably.

South Africa now has the world's largest antiretroviral therapy programme in which special drugs are dispensed in order to slow the onset of AIDS.

De­vel­op­ment potential

Father with sun, who holds a bottle of Cola, Copyright: bpa, FaßbenderSouth Africa has great de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial that stretches well beyond its borders. In the medium term, it can contribute to the political, economic and social sta­bi­li­sa­tion of sub-Saharan Africa.

Further eco­nom­ic growth is pos­si­ble in South Africa, es­pe­cial­ly in manu­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, in the mining sector, tourism and the "green" sector. However, it is the people who con­sti­tute the coun­try’s great­est potential, albeit a potential that has not yet been suf­fi­cient­ly harnessed. Through its con­sti­tu­tion, South Africa has created the ne­ces­sa­ry pre­con­di­tions for equality of op­por­tu­nity regarding access to education as well as to material and natural resources. This will allow society to continue de­vel­op­ing success­fully along demo­cratic and pluralistic lines.

Priority areas of German co­op­er­a­tion with South Africa

During the apartheid regime, co­op­er­a­tion with South Africa was restricted to German and South African non-gov­ern­ment­al or­ga­ni­sa­tions. Official gov­ern­ment­al de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion with South Africa commenced in 1992.

Since 1996, the Binational Commission (BNC) has been the most im­por­tant body for Germany in terms of con­duct­ing political dialogue with South Africa. The BNC is made up of six in­di­vi­du­al com­mis­sions on de­vel­op­ment, defence, en­vi­ron­ment, busi­ness, science/research and culture. It meets once every two years.

At intergovernmental negotiations on de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion held in May 2012, the German gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted a further 286.9 million euros to South Africa for 2012 and 2013. Of this sum, 251.4 million euros are allocated to Financial co­op­er­a­tion and 35.5 million euros to Technical Co­op­er­a­tion. The priority areas of co­op­er­a­tion are as follows:

  • Energy and climate
  • Governance and public administration
  • HIV and AIDS prevention.

Energy and climate

South Africa's gov­ern­ment has set itself ambitious targets in the area of renewable energies and energy efficiency. Power generation from wind power and solar energy is to be greatly expanded. The gov­ern­ment has also stated its desire to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 42 per cent by 2025 while at the same time making it clear that South Africa will only be able to achieve these targets with the help of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ty.

Germany is assisting South Africa with the modernisation of power ge­ne­ra­tion, with climate pro­tec­tion and adap­ta­tion to climate change. Together with the involve­ment of the private sector, GIZ is advising South Africa's Depart­ment of Energy as well as its districts and muni­ci­pa­li­ties on how to promote the use of re­new­able ener­gies and improve energy efficiency.

As part of Financial Co­op­er­a­tion, low-interest loans are being offered via South African financial insti­tu­tions to small and medium-sized busi­nes­ses wishing to invest in re­new­able energies and energy efficiency measures. Further­more, the BMZ and KfW Entwicklungsbank are sup­port­ing the con­struc­tion of a tower type solar power plant for the state-owned energy provider Eskom in the province of Northern Cape.

New forms of energy also create new "green" jobs, which is why Germany is supporting the training of energy auditors whose task it will be to press ahead with energy saving measures in public buildings.

Governance and public administration

Governing South Africa is made more difficult by in­ef­fi­cien­cy, cor­rup­tion and the lack of skilled staff, not just na­tion­ally but also and above all in the provinces and districts. Good gov­er­nance is, however, an im­por­tant precondition for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion is helping South Africa to create an efficient ad­mi­nis­tra­tion system that serves all its citizens equally. The main focus of co­op­er­a­tion is on streng­then­ing centres of gov­ern­ment, fighting cor­rup­tion, de­vel­op­ing the judicial system and im­prov­ing human resources man­age­ment in the public sector.

Community centre with playground in Harare Park, Cape Town, supported by German development cooperation. Copyright: Kathryn EwingMoreover, Germany is sup­port­ing com­mu­ni­ty-based mea­sures for pre­vent­ing violence. These mea­sures include, for ex­ample, im­prov­ing social and eco­nom­ic infra­struc­ture (safe foot­paths, public spaces, sports fields, com­mu­ni­ty centres and retail areas), de­vel­op­ing security patrols and sup­port­ing com­mu­ni­ty or­ga­ni­sa­tions (legal advice centres, HIV pre­ven­tion centres) in deprived areas.

Germany is also actively involved in footballing activities for children and young people as a way of the preventing violence. Football games with coaching, supervised leisure activities and the construction of recreation areas in former townships enable children and young people to learn and appreciate the importance of team spirit, fair play and social interaction, experience different ways of resolving conflicts without violence, become better informed about HIV and AIDS and learn to be more environmentally aware.

HIV and AIDS prevention

School children in South Africa. Copyright: David Gough/IRINThe spread of HIV and AIDS is jeopardising not only South Africa's economic de­vel­op­ment but also its social stability. The immunodeficiency disease is a threat to the lives and livelihoods of countless families.

Germany is supporting, among other measures, programmes to encourage voluntary HIV and tuberculosis testing in severely affected provinces with a view to lowering new infections rates. Information is provided about HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and support is given for establishing HIV prevention structures, the "AIDS councils", at all levels of gov­ern­ment. The BMZ is using public-private partnerships (PPPs) to promote programmes at workplace level for HIV education and prevention, and for the treatment of those living with AIDS.

Triangular co­op­er­a­tion

In order to strengthen co­op­er­a­tion and regional de­vel­op­ment in southern Africa, Germany has been supporting triangular co­op­er­a­tion with South Africa since 2006. This means that Germany, together with South Africa and another African coun­try or pan-African institution, plans and implements cross-cutting de­vel­op­ment programmes in third coun­tries. One of the aims is to build up South African structures for de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion with third coun­tries.

Germany and South Africa have, for example, provided joint support to the Congolese gov­ern­ment in introducing an anti-corruption strategy. At the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a research, training and information centre is being set up for the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA). Germany is also supporting a fire management project that South Africa is pursuing together with Tanzania.

More information

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