South Africa and International Development Cooperation

The most recent BRICS member, officially joining in 2011, South Africa has since become a core component of the grouping and keen to establish itself as a rising power. The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of South Africa in the field of international development cooperation.

Taxi driver, Lena Mankope Mahalefa, leans on her cab in front of a graffiti-covered wall, in the crowded inner city of Johannesburg. Credit: Graeme Williams / Panos

Hosting the BRICS Summit in March 2013, South Africa has posited itself as the ‘gateway to Africa’ and a key conduit for investment and involvement in the continent, recently launching the South African Development Partnership Agency.

Yet while South Africa’s status as a development partner for other African countries is growing, some have suggested that South Africa is finding it difficult to sharpen its profile as a development partner in light of persisting internal challenges, especially very high levels of inequality.

Building on a key series of RPID events in South Africa immediately preceding the BRICS Summit in 2013, the RPID programme is led by a flagship ‘State of the Debate’ study, which analyses South Africa’s domestic policy debate on international development cooperation.

Image credit: Graeme Williams / Panos

Project details

start date
1 April 2012
end date
31 March 2016


About this project

Recent work


Rising Powers in International Development: the State of the Debate in South Africa

IDS Evidence Report 91

South Africa occupies an interesting position in the international development debate. On the one hand, as Africa’s most developed, diversified and, until recently, largest economy representing close to one-third of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), it is an active player in...

19 August 2014


Policy Network Agenda Johannesburg, 20 March 2013: IDS Rising Powers in International Development Advisory Council Discussion

Evidence Report 11

This document presents a summary of a discussion held on 20 March 2013 between five members of the Advisory Council of the IDS Rising Powers in International Development (RPID) programme and three IDS RPID staff members.

12 July 2013