South Africa as a donor and southern Africa: The sustainable development goals (SDGs), emerging foreign policy and development themes in the post-Cotonou context
- Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa
- Volume 92, 2017
- pp. 84-110
- Additional Information
The $130 billion a year global aid industry is going through a seismic change with the Sustainable Development Goals expanding the reach, scope and influence of the aid industry as never seen before. Aid now has the authority to influence policy on everything from patterns of consumption to tax collection. In southern Africa, the changes are intensified because of the demise of the EU-ACP Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020 and classification of many in southern Africa as ‘middle income’. Middle-income status is less defined by a demise in spending than it is defined by aid being directed more clearly at advancing donor interests as (well as that of the beneficiary). In this context, South Africa’s attempt to compete as a donor in Africa appears hampered by an out-dated narrative and capacities ill-suited to compete with traditional donors. New fronts are being opened in southern Africa: donors able to compete will increasingly have to fight for a role and a say in joint donor projects that define, inter alia, which governments are transparent or not, who from the private sector gets to influence policy, what results matter, how to structure, extract value from or pay for the green economy and who gets to define whether an African government is a human rights offender or not. Donors that will shape the development agenda in southern Africa will be those able to define the moral standpoint on which the aid narrative is constructed and those able to deploy the ‘technologies’ and tools that allow them to define what ‘problems’ are to be addressed.