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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Launching of NeST South Africa Reference Group

  Hopewell Radebe
Round Table 1 at the NeST meeting, with Mmakgoshi Phetla-Lekhethe (National Treasury), Marianne Buenaventura (Oxfam) and Elizabeth Sidiropolous (SAIIA) Round Table 1 at the NeST meeting, with Mmakgoshi Phetla-Lekhethe (National Treasury), Marianne Buenaventura (Oxfam) and Elizabeth Sidiropolous (SAIIA) Photo © Riona Judge McCormack/ SAIIA
The South African Institute of International Affairs in collaboration with Oxfam hosted the first meeting of the South African Chapter of the Network of Southern Think-Tanks (NeST) on 28 January 2015.

The NeST was established on the fringes of the 2014 Mexico High Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) and in response to the discussions held at the 2013 Delhi Conference of Southern Providers. It brings together researchers, academics and experts from the global South to “generate, systematise, consolidate and share knowledge on South-South Cooperation (SSC) approaches in international development”.

Download the pdf report of the NeST Launch meeting (PDF, 2.22 MB) or click here for photos from the event.

Download the Research Report, ' pdf South African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA): Strategic Aid or Development Packages for Africa? (PDF, 1.2 MB) '

Click here for the pdf Terms of Reference of NeST South Africa (PDF, 322.79 kB) . See the programme for the event below to access related presentations from the event.

Event Review

The Johannesburg meeting brought together over 40 local stakeholders including academics, think-tanks, NGOs, philanthropies and relevant government departments engaged in South Africa’s development assistance to the continent. The group unpacked and further elaborated the South Africa-specific approach to development partnerships, its paradigm, principles and challenges.

The work of NeST aims to contribute to the future operational framework of the upcoming South African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA), as well as how South Africa engages in development cooperation in Africa and in global debates about international development.

The discussions highlighted the challenge of accounting for the full range of South Africa’s development engagements with Africa, the lack of effective monitoring, evaluation and information management systems, and the need to develop a common definition of what is South Africa’s development aid.
The meeting agreed to keep the network broad-based, engaging government, civil society, private sector, and to include also stakeholders from the broader Southern Africa region. Some of the guiding principles animating South Africa’s development partnerships highlighted by the meeting included Ubuntu, human rights and social justice, demand-driven and mutual benefit of all parties involved.

The Network has committed itself to 'generate, systematise, consolidate and share knowledge on SSC approaches in international development'. The stakeholders agreed that in the near future they would develop an action plan and research agenda for the NeST South Africa reference group.

In NeST South Africa’s future efforts, the following challenges specific to South Africa identified by the panel need to be addressed:
  • Political challenges: Balancing domestic priorities with foreign policy; countering the negative perception of South Africa as a regional hegemon on “big brother” in Africa; balancing African politics with politics at the G20 and BRICS level.
  • Technical challenges: Promoting better coordination, rationalization & coherence in the development efforts in Africa? Defining development assistance from the South African perspective; solving the problem of weak monitoring and evaluation mechanisms (M&E), reporting, information and accountability systems; engaging private sector, civil society, parliament and other stakeholders.
Despite these challenges, South Africa plays a pivotal role in Africa, enjoys good relations with Northern countries and is in a position to learn from the development experiences of both the North and the South.

Event Details

Network of Southern Think-Tanks (NeST) South Africa Reference Group , 28 January 2015
SAIIA, Jan Smuts House, University of the Witwatersrand, East Campus, Johannesburg

The meeting was held under Chatham House rules. pdf Click here to download the agenda (PDF, 398.87 kB) .

9:30    Launch of NeST South Africa reference group

    Welcome and opening remarks by partners
  • Elizabeth Sidiropolous, South African Institute of International Affairs
  • Mmakgoshi Phetla-Lekhethe, National Treasury
  • Marianne Buenaventura, Oxfam
    Round of introductions of NeST SA members

    Background and introduction to NeST within the context of the GPEDC and the global South-South Cooperation debates  
    Q&As and moderated discussion
    Chair/Moderator: Elizabeth Sidiropolous

11:20     Round Table Discussion 1: Unpacking South Africa’s Development  Cooperation
  • What are SA’s key priority areas, in terms of:

1.    Country/regional selection?

2.    Sectoral areas?

3.    Key political, economic and strategic drivers?

  • How do other stakeholders engage in SA’s development cooperation (parliament, parastatals, civil society, private sector, academia, parastals, etc.)?
  • What is included in SA’s definition of development cooperation (ODA, DBSA infrastructure loans, SACU transfers, peace-keeping operations, student scholarships, inter-ministerial capacity-building, etc.)?

    Chair/Moderator:  Michele Reuters, Development Bank of Southern Africa
    Experts to kick-off the discussion
    Moderated Group Discussion

13:30    Round Table Discussion 2: The Effectiveness of South Africa’s Development Partnerships
  • What are the core features that distinguish SA’s development partnership paradigm and how does SA articulate its specific cooperation approach?
  • What are some of the key principles (i.e., ownership, transparency, accountability, results-based, demand-driven, mutual benefit, etc.) on which SA’s development cooperation is based?
  • What are the current challenges facing SA’s development cooperation and how can these be improved?
    Chair/Moderator: Fritz Nganje, University of Johannesburg

    Experts to kick-off the discussion
  • Sal Muthayan, Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy
  • Malcolm Damon, Economic Justic Network / Better Aid Africa
    Moderated Group Discussion

15:00   Closing, summary and follow up actions