South Africa is firmly cementing its role as one of the leading providers of development assistance in Africa, a business daily reports.
The aid forms part of SA’s foreign policy objectives to stabilise the economies of poor African countries, and is also part of continuing efforts to keep potential economic migrants from entering SA in search of opportunities, Business Day reports.
The latest figures from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation indicate that SA, through the African Renaissance Fund, last year allocated R476 million to development projects in selected African countries. The fund came into effect 10 years ago as a replacement of 1968’s Economic Co-operation Promotion Loan Fund Act.
Key focus areas of the fund are projects to promote democracy and good governance, prevent conflict and improve human resource development initiatives. Humanitarian assistance projects and the socioeconomic development of recipient African countries are also initiatives under the spotlight of the fund. The biggest beneficiary of the fund in the financial year under review, Zimbabwe , was allocated R300 million. The money was directed towards emergency food relief and the provision of seeds and fertiliser for its waning agricultural industry.
SA has been bearing the brunt of the economic collapse of Zimbabwe as more and more refugees have streamed into the country, Business Day says. Foreign policy research associate at the South African Institute of International Affairs Tom Wheeler yesterday said the fund was “part of SA’s outreach policy in Africa”. Francis Ikome, a programme director for Africa at the Institute for Global Dialogue, recently told Business Day that SA had the obligation to assist poorer African countries because of its economic hegemony in the region.
“This unfortunately is an unavoidable price that any state that aspires to a leadership role must pay,” Dr Ikome said. Other countries that benefited from the disbursement of funds include Lesotho (R100 million for a dam and transfrontier conservation project), Democratic Republic of Congo (R20 milion for training and capacity building) and Madagascar (R14 million for the Institute of Gemmology).