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Germany and South Africa: Bilateral relations

19.06.2023 - Article

South Africa is Germany’s most important partner in sub-Saharan Africa. The binational commission, which has met since 1996, provides the framework for bilateral cooperation.

Germany is South Africa’s second biggest bilateral trading partner; meanwhile, with trade worth more than 20 billion euro, South Africa is Germany’s most important trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa is the only African member of the G20 and is chairing the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in 2023. One significant initiative is the Compact with Africa (CwA). Its aim is to improve business conditions in participating countries and contribute to greater private investment.

Over 600 German companies operating in South Africa have invested more than 6.2 billion euro there and employ a total workforce of nearly 100,000. Almost as many jobs again are created indirectly by German companies.

Development cooperation covers the fields of energy and climate, vocational education and training, governance and preventing violence, and health. South Africa has received funding of approximately 2.75 billion euro since 1994. A total of 355 million euro was pledged in October 2022 as part of governmental negotiations.

There has been a German-South African energy partnership since 2013. It coordinates a wide range of bilateral cooperation in this field. On the margins of the 2021 climate summit in Glasgow, the political statement on a Just Energy Transition (JET) launched a long-term partnership between Germany, France, the UK, the US and the EU, with South Africa as a pilot partner, to support this transition.

The two countries enjoy cultural and academic ties in a spirit of mutual trust. Germany also supports and assists South Africa with the ongoing transformation process in basic, vocational and higher education. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is represented at six universities in South Africa. The Goethe-Institut runs the regional institute for sub-Saharan Africa in Johannesburg and supports a Goethe-Zentrum in Cape Town.

One important milestone in academic cooperation is Germany’s full membership (which is not yet completely formalised) of the international Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO). The Square Kilometre Array, with sites in South Africa’s Karoo region and in Australia, is set to become the world’s largest radio telescope project.

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