Decentralised Cooperation in South Africa

Decentralised cooperation has been recognised by law since 1992 and is supported by the State. Today decentralised cooperation is an institutional and political reality and a reliable aspect of France‘s external action.

The ministry of Foreign and European Affairs encourages decentralised cooperation by offering the service of its network of embassies to local authorities. Co-financing is possible either through calls to tender for thematic or geographical projects launched by the Delegation for External Action of local authorities, or through the Embassy.

Decentralised cooperation has different aims:

- Acquiring knowledge of others, learning respect and participating in the development and peace process;
- European cooperation to promote balanced development and forge European citizenship at grassroots level;
- Development assistance through exchange and cooperation between local and regional authorities in the South and the North
- Expanding the economic, cultural and social influence of a local region and its inhabitants.

Decentralised cooperation differs from the action of NGOs, central governments and multilateral donors. It is predominantly a long term action with local and regional authorities, which focuses primarily on exchange and know-how, institutional support as well as training.

The following French local authorities have established long term partnerships with South African’s ones:

  • Région Bourgogne (Burgundy) and the Western Cape Province: The 2 regions signed their first cooperation agreement in 2002 renewed in 2011. Initiated as a bilateral partnership in the field of wine making for professionals of previously disadvantaged communities’, since the partnership have undertaken projects in different fields of agricultural professional training, sports, tourism, environment, economic and youth development, culture and health.
  • Région Ile de France and the Gauteng: the two region have renewed an agreement established in 2001 aimed at promoting the development of the two highly-urbanised regions (Transport, Health, Tourism, economic development…)
  • Région La Réunion and the Kwazulu Natal whose partnership focus on cultural exchanges
  • Département du Val de Marne and Johannesburg whose partnership focuses on building the capacity of the Johannesburg municipality in early childhood development.
  • Nantes and Durbanwhose partnership focuses on urban development (transport and climate change), human rights and culture.
  • Le Port (Réunion Island) and Durban: The two cities have partnered since 2005 around sport and cultural exchanges, economic trade, urban development. Le Port is providing technical and financial support to the establishment of the Green corridor next to the to the uMngeni River in Durban.

The French embassy in South Africa has facilitated various partnerships:

  • a wine exchange programme between the Western Cape and the Bourgogne Region since 2002;
  • Gauteng and France’s Parisian region’s renewed agreement established in 2001;
  • the sister city co-operation agreement signed in 2005 between the city of Nantes (France) and the Durban municipality (eThekwini);
  • the twin-city agreement signed in 2005 between the cities of Durban and Le Port (Reunion Island).

publie le 11/02/2015

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