South Africa

Peace, security and conflict resolution on the continent of Africa are in focus in Norwegian development cooperation with one of the major powers of Africa.

Facts about South Africa

The flag for South Africa
Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
The flag for South Africa
The flag for South Africa

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

In 2014, South Africa celebrated 20 years as a democracy. This first year without Nelson Mandela, the Father of the Nation, was characterized by debate about progress, fulfilled dreams and unfulfilled expectations since 1994.

South Africa's democracy is well developed and stable. At the same time, South Africa remains a country of contrasts. Many have been lifted out of poverty, and there is an expanding middle class, but social and economic inequalities are growing.

The ANC government, which was re-elected in May 2014, has placed increased employment and investment at the head of its agenda. South Africa has a free and independent press, and there is an open and critical public debate about the problems and challenges facing South Africa today. The courts are free and independent defenders of human rights.

Women are well represented in the government, in parliament, and at executive level in the public sector and academia. The positive situation in the upper levels of society does not filter down through society, however, and violence against women is an enormous problem.

South Africa is a pioneer on the African continent with respect to sexual minorities, and also maintains a high profile at international level. But despite the liberal legislation, lesbians, homosexuals and transgender persons are still subject to gross persecution and targeted violence.

Economic growth is low, at about 1.5 per cent, primarily owing to frequent strikes and power shortages. There is 25 per cent unemployment. Coal-based power accounts for 90 per cent of electricity production. South Africa has a successful programme for developing renewable energy, first and foremost solar energy, but coal dominates, and will continue to do so for a long time. It is hoped that the investment in renewable energy will result in 10 per cent of the country's energy requirements being covered within three to four years. Environmental issues still do not feature prominently in the national debate.

Corruption remains rife, and South Africa is listed as number 67 of 177 countries on the Transparency International corruption index (2014). The people have little faith in the government's ability to combat corruption. At the same time, the institutional system for fighting corruption is proving robust and very capable of getting to grips with cases. The Office of the Public Protector (ombudsman) has initiated and conducted a number of investigations, one of them into the upgrading of the President's home.

South Africa is a major regional power, and is engaged in active efforts to dampen and resolve a number of conflicts in Africa. Each year, it transfers significant sums to other states in the region. Membership of BRICS, G-20 and the UN is important to South Africa. Its ambition of acting as a counterbalance to a world order dominated by the West, and at the same time playing the part of bridge-builder in conflict areas worldwide, colours the South African approach.

Development cooperation

Good governance, democracy and human rights

The Norwegian collaboration with the Democratic Governance & Rights Unit at Cape Town University (DGRU), and with the Centre for Human Rights at Pretoria University (CHR), continued in 2014. The support is earmarked for good governance and human rights, and underpins Norway's dialogue with South Africa on human rights and efforts for peace and security in the region.

Through its collaboration with the DGRU, Norway has helped to support platforms for open dialogue on the challenges facing the justice sector. A gathering of South African judges held in November 2014 was also attended by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Norway, Tore Schei. The project has shown that the sharing of experience and the establishment of collegial networks contribute positively to strengthening the courts. NOK 600 000 was allocated for this purpose in 2014.

The CHR cooperates extensively with legal communities in the continent of Africa, and contributes to boosting the expertise of judges and other members of the legal profession. Some of the support to the CHR in 2014 funded a series of courses in human rights for judges and jurists. The effect of the courses is reflected in the fact that the judges have applied this new knowledge to a number of cases, thereby raising quality in the courts. NOK 300 000 was allocated for this purpose in 2014.

Norwegian support is enabling the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation to contribute to reconciliation processes in conflict areas worldwide and on the African continent. Analysis and documentation form an important part of the institute's work. An external evaluation found that the institute's dialogue and analytical work has influenced and is reflected in policy-making and legislation. NOK 2.2 million went to this programme in 2014.

Sustainable development, environment and climate

As a result of the collaboration between the Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria and the research authorities in South Africa and Norway, 19 research projects in the field of environment, renewable energy and climate were launched in 2014.

South Africa's acceptance as an associate member of EUREKA during the Norwegian chairmanship was also an important event.

Apart from the importance of the research results themselves, the programme results in closer ties and institutional learning between the research councils in Norway and South Africa. The programme enables Norwegian and South African partners to participate in a number of EU research programmes as well as the EUREKA network. NOK 10.1 million went to this programme in 2014.

Norway also supports South Africa's work of measuring and quantifying its own greenhouse gas emissions. In November 2014, the Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria entered into an agreement on economic support worth approximately NOK 6.5 million for the period 2014–2017. This will make it easier for South Africa to comply with the international requirements relating to the reporting of a country's own greenhouse gas emissions.

Norway has been involved in South Africa's CO2 management since 2008. In the period 2009–2014, the Norwegian Embassy contributed approximately NOK 600 000 annually to the South African Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage (SACCCS).

This past year, Norway has increased its technical support to the SACCCS at the request of the South African authorities. The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate has been represented on an advisory committee in the SACCCS. The University of Oslo is investigating options for financing a collaboration with the University of Pretoria on training geologists with special expertise in carbon sequestration.

Norway has also supported South Africa's work on carbon capture and sequestration through the World Bank CCS Trust Fund.

Management of natural resources

Support for the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) goes towards enhanced management of natural resources on the African continent. Research-based reports from SAIIA have improved the decision-making basis for the management of petroleum, forestry, fisheries and mineral resources, particularly in southern Africa.

SAIIA has built up a regional research network and established a number of networks to which NGOs contribute in order to create a counterbalance to the heavyweight commercial actors in the mining industry. The organization has also helped to bring about dialogues between mining companies, government authorities and the local communities that are affected. NOK 1.3 million went to this programme in 2014.

Support to the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) has led to improved management of the coastal area off South Africa, Namibia and Angola. The BCC has developed a sustainable approach to management of the natural resources in these coastal areas. The work has also contributed to a better understanding of the climate changes in the area.

In 2013, Angola, Namibia and South Africa resolved to formalize their collaboration by means of the Benguela Current Convention, thereby achieving a strategic objective with Norway's support. NOK 3.6 million went to this programme in 2014.

Norway supports the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI), a regional organization that focuses on building capacity in the field of macroeconomics and financial management. In 2014, this support contributed to training and to closer cooperation among the finance ministries and central banks in the region, and strengthened regulation and monitoring of banks and other financial institutions.

The number of countries in the region that used the framework for monitoring activities increased. Through the collaboration with the MEFMI and the CMI, funding was provided for a study trip for Zimbabwean bureaucrats and technocrats to Norway to take a closer look at the Norwegian model for natural resource management and income distribution. 

Experience gained from the trip has been applied to the regional programme for 2015. NOK 3.0 million was contributed to this programme in 2014.

Peace and reconciliation

Norad is one of several donors to the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). The objective of the organization is to promote peace and security in Africa by working on a dialogue-based approach to conflict. NOK 3.7 million was contributed to this programme in 2014.

The purpose of the collaboration with the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) is to contribute to greater understanding of South Africa's role as a regional actor. NOK 3.1 million went to this programme in 2014.

The Southern African Liaison Office (SALO) seeks to pave the way for a forum for dialogue on various conflict situations in Africa. This has helped representatives of the South African authorities, local ambassadors and civil society in South African and the region to obtain a better understanding of one another's viewpoints. NOK 2.2 million was contributed to this programme in 2014.

The Centre for Mediation in Africa (CMA) works to promote the role of woman mediators in peace and reconciliation processes. Through the project, some fifty women from different African countries have received training in mediating in conflict situations. NOK 1.4 million went to this programme in 2014.

Norway provides core support to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). The overarching goal of ISS is to enhance human security in Africa. In 2014, Norad reviewed the agreement with ISS and concluded that the organization's work is both useful and relevant. NOK 7.1 million went to this programme in 2014.

Other cooperation


The Norwegian Band Federation partnered the South African Field Band Association. The Norwegian involvement is being phased out as local musical academic skills are strengthened and anchored in the Field Band Academy. NOK 2.5 million went to this programme in 2014.

The joint project with South African Music Rights Organization (SAMRO) has been a valuable contribution to making the live music sector in South Africa more professional. NOK 3.0 million went to this programme in 2014.

Women and gender equality

In November 2014, the Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria signed agreements with UN Women on extension of the organization's partnership with the South African foreign ministry. The collaboration makes Norway a strategic partner for South Africa in important processes, regionally and internationally. The purpose is to ensure that women's interests are taken into account in the work on national and regional plans for tackling climate change, and in international negotiations on climate change. This is particularly important in the run-up to the summit on climate change in Paris in 2015.

Through UN Women, Norway works with the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Department of Defence to ensure that women's interests are taken into account in national action plans for peace and security in the region. NOK 2.0 million went to these programmes in 2014.


There are a very large number of active national and international NGOs in South Africa that help to hold the authorities accountable and to create meeting places across ethnic and political divides.

Norad's Civil Society Department supports the Atlas Alliance, Digni, FOKUS, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Church Aid, the Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund (SAIH) and the World Wildlife Fund in their cooperation with local partners. A total of NOK 16.4 million in support is planned for 2015.

Also supported are the international organizations Sonke Gender Justice Network, ESSET Ecumenical Service for Socio-Economic Transformation, ActionAid International and GNP+ Global Network of People Living with HIV, all of which have their head offices in South Africa.

Aid goes in particular to the organizations' work for fundamental human rights, women's rights and participation, male role issues, informal vocational training, job creation and climate and the environment.


Published 28.08.2014
Last updated 02.10.2015