Does South Africa deserve its emerging donor status?

The South African flag. Is the aid community giving the country more credit as an emerging donor than it deserves? Photo by: flowcomm / CC BY

There was much fanfare across the South African government after parliament approved in 2009 the initial concept of the establishment of the South African Development Partnership Agency. Officials across different government departments made trips abroad to learn about different aid models, donor approaches and other details necessary in building their own aid agency.

But more than five years since, the international aid community has yet to witness any development toward SADPA’s operationalization. The bill necessary for its realization has yet to pass parliament and has reportedly not even received Cabinet-level approval.

“Every time you speak to [the] government of South Africa, they will tell you that the establishment of SADPA and the passing of the bill is eminent, [but] it has been like this for the past five years,” Neissan Besharati, a senior researcher and lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand and program manager at the Johannesburg-based think tank South African Institute of International Affairs, told Devex.

The reasons for the delay are aplenty — a mix of institutional and political, according to a 2013 paper Besharati wrote exploring the challenges and potential of SADPA. The Department for International Relations and Cooperation, with help from other government entities, has continued working on the different frameworks that would guide the agency once established, but issues such as its financing and its ultimate function remain mired in debate to this day.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.