German development cooperation with South Africa

27.05.2019 - Article

In 2019, South Africa celebrates the 25th anniversary of the end of apartheid. Since its first free and universal elections in 1994, Germany has partnered with the Rainbow Nation in order to support its transition to a stable democracy that provides better quality of life for all its citizens.

Illustrative picture of the map of South Africa
Illustrative picture of the map of South Africa© picture-alliance / ANP

Today, South Africa plays a leading economic and political role on the African continent. As a member of the G20 and BRICS, it is also an important actor on the international stage. Yet South Africa is still two countries in one: a rich industrial nation that generates about one third of the entire economic output of Sub-Saharan Africa, and an emerging country with deep inequalities and massive structural problems.

Germany has a strong focus on Africa as Europe`s immediate neighbour. Under Germany’s presidency in 2017, the G20 launched the ‘Compact with Africa’ initiative, aimed at stimulating private investments and creating jobs all over the continent. The German Government recently set up a development investment fund to this end. In the framework of a ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’ the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has intensified its support for reform partners on the continent since 2016.

In the spirit of partner-orientation and donor harmonization our development cooperation is closely aligned with South Africa`s policy priorities as set out in the National Development Plan and the Medium Term Strategic Framework. It is set with a strong view to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The German government has contributed 2.2 Billion Euro in official development assistance to South Africa since 1994. For 2017 and 2018 the German government committed 268.6 Million Euro in technical and financial cooperation (grants and subsidized loans). Cooperation between the two states focuses on four priority areas: green economy (i.e. energy and climate); technical and vocational education and training/skills development; good governance and public administration; HIV prevention.

1. Green Economy

Germany with its “Energiewende” has unique, internationally recognized expertise in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency. German development cooperation supports South Africa in traversing its very own energy transition in order to build a low emissions economy while creating jobs and securing the power supply.

Solar panel
Solar panel© www.colourbox.com

German financial cooperation supports the upgrade of South Africa’s climate-relevant infrastructure. This includes modernizing the country’s transmission and distribution system to integrate solar and wind capacities or promoting the electrification of 22,000 households with solar home systems in the Eastern Cape. Furthermore, Germany has committed to support climate smart public transport in eThekwini as well as climate smart urban waste water management in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Germany has initiated an innovative funding structure for small-scale renewable energy projects that face difficulties in attracting debt funding.

German technical cooperation strives to improve framework conditions for investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The South African-German Energy Programme works with Eskom on the integration of renewables into the grid and supports municipalities to integrate photovoltaic rooftop installations into their municipal grids. Germany is supporting South Africa through various programmes in the adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

2. TVET and Skills Development

More than half of the young people in South Africa under the age of 25 are unemployed. At the same time, companies are having difficulties filling vacancies because of a lack of skilled workers. That is why German development cooperation is supporting technical and vocational education and training (TVET), drawing on its own success with dual vocational training in Germany. This includes building Skills Centers for lecturers to deliver better training, partnering with TVET colleges and the private sector to align education with the demand of the job market, as well as promoting digital skills in post-school education.

3. Good Governance

Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading
Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading© KfW/Jens Steingässer

Inadequate provision of basic services to the population is a major obstacle to the development of South Africa. The overall objective of Germany`s programmes is to improve the quality of public service delivery and accountability, especially on the local level. The Governance Support Programme works with a number of government entities, provincial and municipal administrations, the private sector and civil society organizations, to improve structures and processes as well as technical and management skills.

Moreover, we support the implementation of national strategies like the National White Paper on Safety and Security. Germany assists in building safer communities, e.g. by building safe footpaths, public spaces. Dedicated measures are targeting violence and crime prevention, especially with regards to women and children.


South Africa has the highest number of HIV-infected people in the world: more than seven million citizens have contracted the virus. German Development Cooperation is working with public and private actors to support the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB (2017-2022) and the Integrated School Health Policy.  Germany is co-financing information and testing programmes that aim at curbing the continued spread of the epidemic. The emphasis of German support is on prevention. Young people, especially young women and adolescent girls, are supported in their personal and professional development. Community centers are built to take better care of AIDS orphans.

Regional and multilateral

On top of its bilateral engagement Germany channels significant resources for development cooperation through the European Union, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other multilateral institutions such as the UN system, also benefiting South Africa. Germany is also supporting South Africa in its objective to strengthen regional organizations like the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

German partners

German development policy is planned and commissioned by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Other German Ministries also provide official development assistance to the country. The German Embassy is responsible for liaising with the South African Government and coordinating all activities with other development partners. German financial cooperation is implemented by KfW Development Bank, technical cooperation by GIZ. Both KfW and GIZ have local offices in South Africa. Private Sector development is also supported by DEG - Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft.

Micro projects

The German Embassy provides micro funds to local projects that help to reduce poverty and improve living standards. These projects include shelters for vulnerable children, construction/ renovation of school classrooms, etc. Civil society organizations can be applied for here.



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