South Africa as a Development Partner in Africa

By Sven Grimm, Director, Centre for Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch University

Policy Brief No 11 – March 2011

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This paper offers a profile of South Africa as a development partner to other African states. South Africa is a substantial African source of financial transfers and assistance, particularly in its sub-region Southern Africa. While pan-African cooperation is part of the core foreign policy rationale of post-Apartheid South Africa, the country is struggling to sharpen its profile as a development partner, due to both persistent internal inequalities in South Africa and an inner-African reluctance to accept South Africa as a leader among African states.

Engagement for Africa’s development has become a raison d’état for South African foreign policy since the end of Apartheid. The new South Africa claims to be a voice for the continent in multilateral forums like the G20 and, from April 2011 on, in the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The content and the channels of South African engagement have fundamentally changed since 1994, however. Previously, aid to countries in the region had been seen as a tool to overcome isolation and as a clientele policy in the immediate neighbourhood. This brief provides an overview of key elements of South African development cooperation and discusses challenges that South Africa faces as a development partner. Read the full policy brief