History of the development cooperation with South Africa

Germany opposed the degrading, inhumane system of apartheid from early on. Nelson Mandela’s election ushered in a new era of democratic partnership. The dream of the “rainbow nation” was to become reality. Trade and investment started to flourish, bursaries and cultural exchange developed, political parties embarked on cooperation across borders, German constitutional law experts acted as advisers during the process of drafting the constitution.

Prior to 1990

Long-lasting close economic relations between Germany and South Africa; cooperation with South African nongovernmental organisations and reformist political movements inside and outside the country at the time of the apartheid regime; promotion of education and culture; support of the opposition.

From 1992 Enlarge image

Keeping pace with the reform processes in South Africa, the framework for official development cooperation was established after the first free elections on 27 April 1994. Since 1996 the German-South African Binational Commission (BNC) serves as the most important structure of the bilateral political dialogue.

After 1994

South Africa has received funds of more than 550 million Euro of bilateral development aid from Germany. In line with the promised strengthening of Africa by the G8-countries, this is also a sign of appreciation of South Africa as an anchor of stability for the entire continent. Therefore one focus lies on regional integration: the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the political forum for regional economic and social development (NEPAD), the reciprocal “peer review” process for democratic and human rightsoriented state management (APRM: African Peer Review Mechanism), and projects for the promotion of regional infrastructure are all being supported.

Since 2002

Bundling of diverse individual projects in various sectors:
• good governance and communal development
• skills development
• combating HIV & AIDS across the board
• renewable energies and climate protection

Sucesses and Challenges in South Africa

The YDF team at the Klersoord refugee camp Enlarge image The YDF team at the Klersoord refugee camp (© GIZ/YDF) To some it still seems like a miracle that the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa has, to a large extent, taken place in a peaceful manner. Nelson Mandela’s ideas of reconciliation and dialogue have to this day remained national goals. The project of a “rainbow nation” of peaceful coexistence of many peoples of all skin colours in one state, South Africa, has had a good start.

By now, the democracy and economic power of South Africa contributes to peace, safety and development on the entire African continent. In South Africa, however, many challenges remain:


Even 17 years after the end of apartheid, the majority of the population is still in poverty according to international standards. Prospects for the future are unevenly distributed. Despite a GDP of US$ 5,890 per capita (2008) 42.9% of South Africans still live on less than 2 US$ a day.

Inequality and unemployment. Based on the Gini-coefficient, South Africa is one of the countries with the highest income disparities. Its value is 57.8 out of 100, which represents absolute inequality (Germany: 28.3). Unemployment figures are officially at 24.5%, in real times a figure of 40% seem realistic.


50 homicides and 870 break-ins per day are also the result of poverty, inequality, and alcohol and drug abuse. Basic services to the public. Population growth, complex restructuring of public administration after apartheid, as well as lack of the needed skills turn the delivery of comprehensive, nationwide basic services into a long-winded process.


Nowhere in the world are HIV & AIDS raging as virulently as in South Africa. At a prevalence rate of 10.9% under 2 years and 18.2% of the 15-49 year old population, as well as, officially, 1,000 AIDS deaths per day, the improvement of medical care and education of people on this subject is of vital importance.

Climate change

The developing country, South Africa, due to large-scale utilisation of coal, counts among the largest CO2- emitters worldwide (rank 11 absolute) and continues to require more and more energy for realising its development goals.


Girl with YDF footballs

German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

The GIZ is responsible for the implementation of the development policy projects and programs of the German government. It was formed in late 2010, from the merger of the German development agencies GTZ (German Technical Cooperation), DED (German Development Service) and InWEnt (Capacity Building International).

German Development Bank (KfW)

KfW Development Bank is Germany’s leading development bank. It carries out Germany´s financial cooperation with developing countries on behalf of the German Government. The 600 personnel at headquarters and about 200 specialists in its 66 local offices cooperate with partners worldwide. Its goal is to combat poverty, secure peace, protect the environment and climate, and make globalisation fair. KfW is a competent and strategic advisor on current development issues.