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Norwegian assistance to South Africa

Norwegian assistance to South Africa

Norway has a long historical relationship with South Africa, and today’s cooperative projects have roots in the broad support Norway gave to the fight against apartheid. Development cooperation between South Africa and Norway began right after the 1994 democratic election in South Africa. Norwegian assistance to South Africa in 2004 totalled NOK 107 million.

The existing cooperative arrangement is based on a letter of intent signed in 2004 and covering the period through 2009. Since South Africa is an affluent country by African standards, it is anticipated that the bilateral aid will be terminated when the letter of intent expires. However, the stage is set for strengthened Norwegian cooperation with South Africa on regional challenges, including conflict prevention and peace enforcement on the African continent.

The letter of intent sets out goals for the bilateral developmental cooperation. They are:

  • To contribute to peaceful and democratic development
  • To strengthen regional integration in southern Africa using South African expertise and capacity
  • To establish lasting cooperative relationships between Norwegian and South African partners

The letter of intent prioritizes the following issues:

  • Democracy, human rights, peace and security
  • Higher education and research
  • Environment and natural resources
  • Energy

Democracy and human rights
The Norwegian Centre for Human Rights at the University of Oslo administers an agreement designed to help South Africa fulfil certain human rights legislation and international conventions that the country has ratified. The effort is channelled in large part through volunteer organizations and institutions that are active on such issues as discrimination in the workplace, women’s voting, reconciliation processes, sexually related violence against women and conflict resolution.

Norway has also played a role in the implementation of reforms in local and provincial administrative systems across South Africa.

The bilateral agreements with South Africa are all designed to strengthen the ability of authorities to provide basic services to the population and thus to help cultivate democratic ways. The cooperative arrangement is also designed to strengthen civil society and institutions that deal with rights issues.

Higher education and research
All Norwegian universities and most scientific colleges and research institutions have a South African partner with whom they cooperate. About 300 Norwegian students study in South Africa, and in 2005 an agreement was reached to give stipends to South African students in Norway. The University of Western Cape plans to establish a Nordic centre for Nordic researchers, students and teachers.

South African authorities are preparing reforms in the university and college sector. The goal is to promote fairness in the access to higher education and to correct disparities remaining from the apartheid era by making sure students and staff reflect the demographic make-up of today’s South Africa. Norway supports the reforms through allocations designed to enhance equality of access and increase the participation of previously excluded groups and to strengthen the administration of universities and technical colleges.

Norway and South Africa have established a collaborative support system for shared research projects. The goal is to promote high-quality research and long-term research cooperation between the two countries. In 2005, researchers and students in Norway and South Africa were engaged in 39 joint research projects. The Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research have both participated in this bilateral effort, as have a variety of Norwegian researchers and research institutions.

Environment and natural resources
Since the late 1990s, the Norwegian and South African environmental ministries have cooperated to reduce pollution, protect biological diversity and promote good governance. Several Norwegian institutions are participants in the programme. An agreement has also been reached on fisheries management and research, with active participation by the Directorate of Fisheries and the Institute of Marine Research. Norway and South Africa collaborate productively in international forums.

In the energy sector (electricity, petroleum), the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate both take part in legislative reforms and professional development. Economic development and environmental protection benefit from a more open energy market as well as the development of common standards and improved access to the electric power net for electricity generated from diverse energy sources.

The National Arts Council (NAC) is South Africa’s official organ of culture; its primary duty is to reinforce the nation’s self-image and promote cultural expression at the state and provincial levels. In June 2005, South Africa and Norway signed a new agreement in support of the NAC’s goals in the realm of music.

Norway also provides support to the Robben Island Museum, whose mission includes collecting and archiving historical material related to the fight against apartheid.

Regional integration, peace and security
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has gone from being a collection of front-line states opposed to apartheid and colonialism to an organization for regional cooperation and integration in numerous areas. In recent years the SADC countries have experienced a rise in international organized crime, corruption and money laundering. Weak legislation and weak institutions make the region especially vulnerable to such activity. Norway has begun collaborating with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) to help strengthen relevant laws and institutions within SADC countries.

Norway has supported the secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which is situated in South Africa.

In 2005 Norway joined South Africa in a cooperative programme supporting the expansion of police services in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

Norway’s contribution to promoting peace and security in the region while enhancing the regional impact of South African institutions includes financial support to regional organizations dedicated to the environment and natural resources as well as institutions devoted to a free press and free elections.

The fisheries, environment and education programmes supported by Norway help in the establishment of regional institutional partnerships.

(Updated November 2005)