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Chr. Michelsen Institute

From Aid to Partnership

A Joint Review of Norwegian - South African Development Cooperation 1995-2001

Pundy Pillay and Elling N. Tjшnneland
With Sindre Bangstad, Matthew Smith and Arne Tostensen

SARPN would like to acknowledge the Chr. Michelson Institute as the source of this document
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Executive Summary

Norwegian Development Assistance: Disbursements and Channels of Support

With the 1994 Memorandum of Understanding and the 1999 Declaration of Intent Norway committed itself to provide NOK 100 million per year in the first five-year period (1994-99) and NOK 80 million per year in the second period. Additional allocations from various special and global schemes were also envisaged. However, actual allocations from the country as well as the special schemes have been higher. Total disbursement in the first seven years adds up to about NOK 950 million.

More than one-third of the total amount disbursed so far (34 percent) has gone to the Democracy, Governance and Human Rights sector. The second and third largest sectors to benefit have been Human Resource Development and Research (19 percent) and Economic Growth and Private Sector Development (11 percent). These three sectors thus received almost two-thirds of all disbursements. Six other sectors (Peace and Security, Local Government, Housing,Energy, Environment and Fisheries, and Culture and Sports) shared about a quarter of total disbursements while onetenth went to a range of miscellaneous projects and activities.

There are a variety of channels of Norwegian support. However, four broad categories can be identified. First, a relatively high proportion of aid in this period (37 percent) was channelled through Norwegian NGOs directed to a variety of South African NGOs and community-based organisations. Second,about 41 percent of aid has been channelled directly from NORAD’s head office and the Foreign Ministry in Oslo or through the Norwegian embassy in Pretoria. Of the amount channelled through this route, about 60 percent (or 25 percent of total aid) has gone to state and public institutions and the rest (just under 17 percent of total aid) has gone to private institutions (mainly NGOs). Third, nearly 7 percent of aid has been channelled through Norwegian universities and research institutions. Finally, almost 15 percent of funds (“other channels and unclassified”) has been channelled through UN organisations as multi-bilateral assistance (mainly through UNICEF and UNEP) or through international NGOs (mainly AWEPA) and some modest contributions to Norwegian private companies to stimulate their interest in South Africa.

Achievements and Lessons Learnt

The review team’s main findings relate to the relevance and effectiveness of Norwegian development assistance and are structured around the three key objectives outlined in the 1999 Declaration of Intent, namely, assistance to South Africa’s transformation and poverty reduction policies; the regional dimension in the aid programme; and co-operation between Norwegian and South African institutions and organisations. The role of Norwegian aid is assessed also in relation to three major crosscutting themes corresponding to the key challenges facing South Africa: policy frameworks and the creation of an enabling environment; poverty reduction and job creation; and implementation and capacity development.

The team’s overall assessments and conclusions have both positive and negative elements. In some areas the Norwegian contribution has been highly relevant and effective, in other areas it has been uneven and in some cases it has been a failure. Generally, however, it has been well aligned with South African priorities.

The team found that the greatest impact has been in some of the efforts to assist in developing new policies, planning institutional reform and the creation of an enabling environment. The outstanding achievements have been in the support to the evolving policy and legislative framework for fisheries, and in energy policy. The record is much more uneven in implementation and capacity building, but relevant and effective examples of Norwegian aid can be found, for example in support to the local government sector. The achievements have been fewer in direct Norwegian support for poverty reduction and job creation.

Regional components are included in most government-to-government programmes. The Norwegian focus on regional issues is welcomed and strongly supported by all government departments involved. This also reflects the political will and commitment of South Africa’s government to support regional development efforts and the SADC project. However, the regional programmes are generally small projects added on to the bigger South Africa-focused programmes although many are found to have potential for expansion. Outside the government-to-government programmes the regional activities are, with a couple of important exceptions, limited to general networking.

Achievements in building and strengthening regional co-operation also depend on securing support and ownership from other countries in the region. South Africa plays a crucial role in shaping the development of the region and this must be exploited wherever and whenever appropriate. The review team supports the Norwegian-funded regional projects, but argues that more effort must be placed on pursuing regional objectives and projects also in the other countries in the region.

In most areas, co-operation has also been entered into between South African and Norwegian institutions. They have in nearly all cases been judged to be of mutual benefit although a few have been less successful in contributing to overall project objectives. Interaction between institutions in the two countries is also increasingly taking place outside the framework of development aid. However, the review team also found that although many of the institutions are strongly committed to continued co-operation, almost all such co-operations depends on some external funding to maintain it. In the Norwegian case this will in most cases imply the use of developments funds with limited funding available from other sources. On the South African side there are some funds available for co-operation, but they are limited and not sufficient to cover all costs.

The review team also notes that the development programme has suffered from insufficient co-ordination. In the early part of the period (1995-98) the aid programme also suffered from a lack of focus. This has improved in the latter part with the approval of a number of government-togovernment programmes. However, the programme still suffers from insufficient co-ordination between the different channels employed to disburse Norwegian aid, and between the different sections and departments allocating funds to South Africa within both NORAD and the Foreign Ministry.

The efforts to give a “regional dimension” to the various programmes also suffer from an insufficient Norwegian strategy for regional assistance. Certain changes are an insufficient Norwegian strategy for regional assistance. Certain changes are increase the effectiveness and relevance of Norwegian regional assistance, and the support for South Africa-led regional projects. This is becoming increasingly important as the focus for SADC and the regional project is shifting from project management and implementation to policy harmonisation, economic integration, conflict management and governance issues.


The team makes 18 sets of recommendations relating generally to the nature of future development assistance and specifically to a number of sectors. They are clustered below in 11 categories. Category A summarises recommendations relating to guidelines for future cooperation. Categories B to J presents the specific recommendations relating to the current sectors and components in the development co-operation between the two countries. The final category K focuses on recommendations relating to management.

A: Guidelines for future cooperation

The review based its recommendations on future co-operation on extensive interviews and workshops with stakeholders both in Norway and South Africa, and on assessments of achievements and lessons learnt over the past seven years. Norwegian foreign policy positions emphasise the need to maintain strong bilateral relations with South Africa and to support regional development efforts. This is also the position on the South African side. The National Treasury also strongly argues for the current level of development assistance to be maintained.

Recommendation 1: Development Assistance beyond 2004

On the basis of these factors and the weight of opinion expressed, the review team finds that a continuation of Norwegian development co-operation with South Africa beyond 2004 is justified. However, significant changes in scope and focus are recommended. The team proposes that the regional dimension be scaled up with support to regional development efforts being the key priority in co-operation. A separate budget line for regional co-operation, a regional grant (RG), should be established to provide financial resources for a more systematic Norwegian effort to support regional development in Southern Africa.

The team also proposes that some aid to support development efforts inside South Africa be continued but at a lower level and with some changes. This support for domestic development in South Africa should be facilitated and funded through a new development co-operation programme (DCP) between South Africa and Norway.

Recommendation 2: Supporting Regional Development

The team proposes a number of guidelines for support to regional development and how South Africa’s role can be facilitated.

  1. Regional support projects must not be confined to supporting South African activities; regional ownership must be facilitated and ensured and cognisance taken of the sensitivities to the dominant position of South Africa.

  2. Strong emphasis must be put on capacity building and institutional development in all regional support programmes.

  3. Regional support programmes must be aligned with policies and guidelines developed by regional organisations and assist in the further development of such policies.

  4. Support to security, stability and good governance must be a priority area in Norwegian support to regional development, especially in relation to SADC and the African Union/Nepad.

  5. The Norwegian resource base should be used in regional support programmes where appropriate.
B: Conflict management and governance

The review team proposes three sets of recommendations or guidelines for Norwegian assistance in this area.

Recommendation 3: Conflict Management, Democracy and Human Rights

Assistance to regional organisations in developing policies, operational guidelines and effective institutions to improve capacities for conflict management, support democratisation and promote respect for human rights is a key priority. Consideration should be given to commissioning studies to assist in the identification of projects and strategic interventions.

Recommendation 4: Training for Peace in Southern Africa

The Training for Peace in Southern Africa project (TfP) is a major regional programme and has been considered by Norway to be one of its flagship projects in support to regional development.

The review team found that this programme has been less successful in achieving its stated objectives and suffers from several weaknesses. In view of these findings and the guidelines for regional support outlined above, the team recommends several steps in order to improve the relevance and effectiveness of this programme. This is particularly important in view of the recent decision to extend the programme with a major increase in the budget. Six recommendations are made.

  1. TfP must secure the participation of organisations outside South Africa and establish working relationships with appropriate regional organisations and national authorities.

  2. TfP should focus its training activities on delivering lectures and modules at existing national and regional training programmes. The training of police officers should be shifted to target those already selected for deployment.

  3. Before it embarks upon the establishment of a database, TfP must carefully assess how to ensure its relevance.

  4. TfP must co-ordinate activities with other similar programmes. In particular, consideration must be given to possible co-operation with SADSEM, or alternatively a division of labour. This includes an assessment of the possibility of inviting SADSEM to become a partner in TfP.

  5. TfP must establish a regionally based steering committee or project management group. If it fails to achieve this, an alternative option is to dissolve TfP and instead develop separate business plans between the Embassy and each of the implementing organisations.

  6. TfP should carry out an early midterm review at the end of the first year of phase two to assess achievements and recommend possible changes.
Recommendation 5: Support to ‘Chapter 9’ Institutions

The Embassy should explore the possibility of establishing a programme focusing on support to public watchdog committees and other commissions established to protect the new democracy and commission a study to identify possible areas and channels of support. These institutions have a crucial role to play in the consolidation of the South African democracy. They are also potentially important in a regional context and in future regional support programmes.

Activities could be funded from the current human rights programme while activities beyond 2004 could be funded from the regional grant and/or the new development co-operation grant depending upon the projects supported.

C: Economic growth and private sector development

The review makes two sets of recommendations based on the assessment and lessons learnt from the development co-operation in this sector.

Recommendation 6: The Competition Commission

The South African Competition Commission has an important role to play in helping to develop similar institutions in the region. Competition authorities are important institutions in the implementation of the SADC trade protocol. Continued Norwegian support to the Competition Commission may be allocated from a regional grant and linked to a Norwegian support programme for assistance to improving competition policy in Southern Africa.

Recommendation 7: Commercial Cooperation and Investment

The review team finds that the current programmes for stimulating private sector co-operation and skills transfer have not been very effective and suggests certain shifts in focus.

  1. The support programme for commercial co-operation between the two countries should shift towards a stronger focus on trade and investment opportunities for bigger companies and less on small- and medium-sized Norwegian companies. This should largely be funded outside the aid budget.

  2. The Norwegian Government Petroleum Fund is encouraged to consider the possibility of investing in South Africa.

  3. Norfund is encouraged to continue to invest and expand its operations in South Africa.
D: Energy

The review team found that the Norwegian assistance has played an important role in supporting the evolving policy and legislative framework for petroleum and electricity.

Recommendation 8: Energy

  1. The support to the Department of Minerals and Energy should continue after 2004 with funding from the new development co operation agreement. The scope and focus should be decided at the end of the current project phases. This may also include broadening the assistance to new areas.

  2. Support to the National Electricity Regulator should come from a regional grant and be linked to a Norwegian strategy for regional support in this sector. Such a regional programme should also include other aspects of the energy sector, including petroleum.

  3. Norway should carry out a comprehensive study of the energy sector, including petroleum, and identify current and future areas and programmes for regional support.
E: Higher education and research

The review found that there is a particularly extensive co-operation between the two countries in this area.

Recommendation 9: Higher Education and Research

  1. Norway should provide funding for a continuation of the joint research programme through the new development co-operation programme.

  2. Norway should, if required, expand its current financial support to the Department of Education and its targeted interventions to facilitate institutional restructuring in the higher education sector. Continued funding can be allocated from the new development co-operation programme.

  3. A study should be undertaken to assist in the formulation of a Norwegian support programme for tertiary education in the SADC countries, including the role of South Africa in such a programme.

  4. The current efforts to encourage Norwegians to study in South Africa should continue.
F: Fisheries, water supply and the environment

The review team provides four sets of recommendations related to the major co operation in the environmental sector.

Recommendation 10: Fisheries

  1. Support for the fisheries sector from the new development cooperation programme should focus on implementation related to subsistence fisheries and poor fishing communities.

  2. Support for joint activities related to the Benguela Current should be funded from the regional grant.

  3. Expanded regional assistance to the fisheries sector must be guided by a regional strategy aligned with the SADC protocol on fisheries.
Recommendation 11: Rural Water Supply

  1. The project in the groundwater programme on identifying best practices from rural water supply schemes in Southern Africa should be implemented in the current project phase.

  2. Norway should consider developing a strategy and guidelines for regional support to rural water supply schemes.
Recommendation 12: Environment

  1. The planned joint review of the environmental programme should provide recommendations relating to funding beyond 2004.

  2. The support for the establishment of a regional centre for environmental information should continue with funding from the regional grant.

  3. Support to development of South Africa’s competence and capacity to manage pollution and waste may continue with funding from the new development co-operation programme.

  4. Some funding from the regional grant may be provided for cooperation in the meteorological field.
Recommendation 13: Cooperation in the South Atlantic and Antarctic

Funding for co-operation between the two countries in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic should in the main be provided for outside the aid framework.

G: Local Government

Norway is supporting a fairly large local government programme focusing on the Department, the Demarcation Board, the South African Local Government Association and the Mpumalanga province and also involving Norwegian institutions.

Recommendation 14: Local Government

  1. Some support for local government should continue with funding from the new development co-operation programme. Focus and scope depend on achievements and lessons learnt from the second phase of the programme.

  2. Future support must focus on capacity building and be restricted to one or two areas/projects.

  3. Specific regional programmes should not be funded at this stage although South African skills and resources should be utilised in individual countries where appropriate.
H: Housing

The housing programme largely revolves around developing and promoting the around developing and promoting the housing model in South Africa, especially linked to inner-city developments. It is implemented by a South African NGO (Cope Housing Association) in co-operation with a Norwegian NGO (NBBL).

Recommendation 15: Housing

  1. Support for the housing sector should not continue beyond 2004. Nor should priority be given to developing a regional strategy at this stage based on the co-operative model.

  2. If required, some additional funds should be made available from the new development co-operation programme to ensure that Cope becomes financially sustainable.

  3. Support for co-operation between Cope and NBBL should be provided through the Norwegian Fredskorpset.
I: Culture

There is a fairly strong interest in cultural co-operation between the two countries. This is also manifested in a very large number of small aid-funded projects. A government-to-programme has also been established with a focus on education and music.

Recommendation 16: Culture

Norway should offer continued support to the National Arts Council under the new development co-operation programme with a focus on cultural co-operation. This may include a continuation of the education and music programme, but may also include other dimensions such as literature. Any support to cultural cooperation should be co-ordinated with the regional support programme for culture.

J: Civil Society

The Norwegian financial support to society was found to be substantial. There is little or no information available about the impact of this assistance and very limited co-ordination between Norwegian funding to civil society and government-togovernment programmes.

Recommendation 17: Civil Society

  1. The Embassy should commission a study evaluating the relevance and effectiveness of the Norwegian support to civil society.

  2. The Embassy should explore the possibility of assisting the South Africa’s National Development Agency in becoming more effective in disbursing grants.

  3. Some transitional funds for assistance to civil society should be made available through the new development co-operation agreement. Guidelines for this should be developed.

  4. Funding for civil society from the regional grant should only be made available to prioritised areas.

  5. The Norwegian Fredskorpset should be used to promote cooperation between civil society organisations in Norway and South Africa, and between civil society organisations in the SADC region.

  6. Future assistance to HIV/AIDS projects through NGOs should be co-ordinated with the main regional project supported by NORAD, and data from the HISP project should be used in planning and monitoring assistance in this area.
K: Management

The review team found that the management of the co-operation is running smoothly. A main challenge has been to achieve a greater co-ordination between the different channels used to disburse Norwegian aid. The review team calls for changes in the management of regional support programmes to improve the relevance and effectiveness of Norwegian assistance.

Recommendation 18: Managing Future Bilateral Cooperation and Regional Support

  1. Norway must adopt a regional strategy enabling the implementation of a policy for support to regional development and the allocation from a special regional budget line.

  2. Norway is encouraged to deploy a counsellor and regional programme advisors to manage relations with SADC and the regional support programmes.

  3. Regional issues and the use of the regional budget line should be discussed at annual consultations between Norway and its partner countries in Southern Africa.

  4. The South African embassy in Oslo should be given a stronger role in the consultations and co-operation between the two countries.

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