Germany and South Africa have a strategic partnership. How close these ties are is clear from the work of the Binational Commission, a forum for intergovernmental consultations that convenes roughly every two years. As the main forum for political dialogue between the German and the South African Government, the Commission will from now on cover seven different areas (defence, the economy, the environment, culture, development cooperation, science and research, and labour and social affairs). The main focus is tackling key global challenges such as climate change or the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
At the Binational Commission’s sixth session held this year two new committees were established, one on labour and social affairs and one on renewable energies. The session was opened by the two co-chairs, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Federal Development Cooperation Minister Dirk Niebel pledged 112.5 million euro for South Africa over the next two years, money that will be spent primarily on HIV/AIDS prevention and creating an effective and citizen-friendly administration.
This year the subject of renewable energies and energy efficiency was discussed in several of the Commission’s committees. In the energy sector not only the Federal Development Cooperation Ministry but also the Federal Ministries for the Environment, Research and Economics as well as the Federal Foreign Office are cooperating with South Africa, which has a keen interest in energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies from Germany. This fast-growing market offers considerable opportunities for collaboration between German and South African companies – and hence for the creation of green jobs.
Renewable energies and energy efficiency are an important focus of Germany’s development cooperation with South Africa in 2010 and 2011. Almost 70% of the development cooperation funds earmarked for South Africa over this period will go to the energy and climate sector.
Another topic on the agenda was Germany’s assistance with the preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Since 2006 Germany has been systematically advising the country under a variety of programmes on matters such as transport, security and environmental issues that are of great importance for the success of the first FIFA World Cup to be held in Africa.
As a major emerging economy, South Africa has a key role to play both in promoting economic and social progress in Africa and strengthening democracy there. Hence Germany’s development cooperation with South Africa is part and parcel of an integrated approach across the whole spectrum of foreign, security, environmental and external economic affairs policy.
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