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Vickers, Brendan  (2012) Towards a new aid paradigm: South Africa as African development partner. Cambridge Review of International Affairs Volume 25, Number 4: 1-23.

As the largest African economy and the leading African aid-provider, with plans to establish an aid agency, South Africa is often ranked among the developing world’s ‘emerging donors’. However, the country’s development cooperation commitments are smaller in scope, scale and ambition than the aid regimes of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) or Gulf state donors. Given its limited resources and domestic socioeconomic challenges, South Africa prefers the role of ‘development partner’. In this role, South Africa’s development cooperation in Africa has ranged from peacekeeping, electoral reform and post-conflict reconstruction to support for strengthening regional and continental institutions, implementing the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and improving bilateral political and economic relations through dialogue and cooperation. This article seeks to determine whether Pretoria’s development cooperation offers an alternative perspective to the aid policies and practices of the traditional and large rising donors. We conclude that South Africa does not fit neatly the ‘donor’ category of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD’s) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and neither is Pretoria’s aid-spending typically ‘ODA’ (official development assistance). Instead, with its new aid agency, South Africa occupies a unique space in Africa’s development cooperation landscape. With fewer aid resources, but a ‘comparative advantage’ in understanding Africa’s security/governance/development nexus, South Africa can play an instrumental role in facilitating trilateral partnerships, especially in Southern Africa.

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