The United Kingdom and South Africa have a broad and rich range of cooperation

Joint Communiqué on the occasion of the 11th Meeting of the United Kingdom – South Africa Bilateral Ministerial Forum, London 19 October 2015

On 19 October the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP welcomed Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to Lancaster House to co-chair the 11th meeting of the UK-South Africa Bilateral Forum.

The Ministers agreed on an ambitious programme to further strengthen our enduring partnership and promote the security and prosperity of both our countries.

They noted the particular importance of South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) as a framework for informing future cooperation, reflecting the 9 priorities set out by President Zuma in his State of the Nation address of 12 February and the programme of the UK Government.

Ministers commended the broad and rich range of cooperation and committed to fostering partnership, particularly in the following fields:

Foreign Policy and Cooperation

South Africa and the UK share many strategic goals and values.  Preventing and resolving conflicts, promoting democracy and strengthening the international rules-based system remain fundamental to our foreign policies. Ministers agreed to strengthen mutual understanding of priorities through regular expert level structured dialogue.

Ministers discussed developments in Africa, expressed concern about the negative impact of conflict on civilians, particularly women and children, and noted the importance of embedding democratic norms in line with the African Charter for Democracy, Elections, and Governance. Ministers noted South Africa’s strong legacy for peace building and peacekeeping in the Great Lakes. They called for inclusive political dialogue in Burundi and stressed the need for all to encourage a new era in DRC. They called for implementation of the IGAD+ peace agreement in South Sudan to help security, stability and development. Ministers strongly condemned extremism including violent extremism and called for united efforts to counter terrorism in the region.  Ministers also exchanged views on developments in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. They expressed concern about the current humanitarian situation arising from conflicts, including Syria and Ukraine.

South Africa and the UK will work together to progress reform and effective cooperation between multilateral organisations, drawing on the UK and South Africa’s prominent roles in regional and international organisations and formations.  Ministers underlined the importance of reform of the UN, including making the UN Security Council more representative. They noted in particular the importance of permanent African representation. Leveraging their respective roles as members of the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, the UK and South Africa will continue to advance greater strategic coherence between the AU and the UN. In this regard, strengthening AU and UN peacekeeping operations in Africa will remain a shared priority. The UK and South Africa will continue exchanges on global efforts to reduce proliferation, prevent sexual violence in conflict and promote disarmament and international justice. There should be further dialogue on the challenges of global migration and on conflict prevention, noting South Africa’s transition experience.

Ministers welcomed the significant progress made by South Africa on its development priorities - including in education, health, gender equality, public sector performance management and low-carbon economy. They recognised the significant contribution made by 21 years of the UK’s direct bilateral aid programme which the UK had announced would end in 2015. The UK will remain committed to development partnerships and the programme of technical assistance which will provide access to international expertise in support of the NDP and economic growth in South Africa.

Ministers recognised the close co-operation on regional and global development priorities, including the international response to Ebola, tackling HIV and TB, customs reform, and combating organised crime and corruption. South Africa and the UK are committed to work together in the G20 Development Working Group, to secure positive outcomes that complement and add value to the implementation of the global development agenda, including on key areas such as on cooperation on international tax matters and reducing the cost of remittance flows.

Ministers welcomed constructive collaboration on ‘Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, agreeing to enhance partnerships to accelerate the implementation of the Global Goals in Africa, particularly through the United Nations and also including through the G20, the Commonwealth and UK support to South Africa’s co-chairmanship of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). Shared priorities will include gender equality, transparency, global economic governance, tackling illicit financial flows, mobilising domestic resources, and financial inclusion.


Ministers acknowledged that the target of doubling bilateral trade from the 2009 base figures by 2015 will be missed and urged a redoubling of efforts to expand the trading and investment relationship. They noted the strong basis for cooperation with over 600 UK companies operating in South Africa and over 600 South African companies operating in the UK. They welcomed the continuing development of strong bilateral chambers of commerce in South Africa and the United Kingdom and regular meetings of the South Africa - United Kingdom Business Council.

Ministers noted interest for the Export Credit Agencies of the UK Export Finance and South Africa Export Credit Insurance Corporation to work together to promote communication, discussion and cooperation for the purpose of facilitating export credit support for projects and/or transactions of interest to exporters from South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Ministers reiterated their desire to see an investment regime that promotes South Africa as a location for business and investment, thereby assisting economic growth and job creation. They noted the introduction of the second draft of South Africa’s new investment Bill into Parliament which was made available for public comment.  Specific opportunities for investment and job creation included within the National Development Plan; Blue Economy (Operation Phakisa); Special Economic Zones, Industrial Development Zones and relevant skills development; services; the Green Economy; and Manufacturing & Advanced Manufacturing.

There was scope for further collaboration in industrial engineering sub-contracting, exploring global value chains and sharing best practices in small business development and entrepreneurship. To this end, they also noted the important role played by SMMEs in the growth and development of both economies and considered strengthening this element of the partnership, particularly as it relates to value chain integration in high-end productive sectors including ICT, manufacturing and services. In addition Ministers anticipated the successful hosting of the Youth Entrepreneurship event aimed at advancing youth enterprise development.

The UK and South Africa will work together in international fora for the prosperity of both countries, and share a commitment to African prosperity and multilateral trade to support the African vision for a regionally integrated and competitive continent. Ministers looked forward to the WTO Ministerial Conference (MC10), the first WTO Ministerial Conference to be held on the African continent, and are committed to working with WTO Members towards substantive outcomes especially on the outstanding issues of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), that strengthen an equitable, open, transparent and inclusive rules-based  multilateral trading system.

Ministers recognised that the G20 has become one of the critical fora for ensuring global financial stability and promoting international growth and trade, among other issues. Ministers looked forward to the G20 Leader’s Summit in Antalya, Turkey in November 2015 and endorsed the implementation, inclusiveness and investment agenda.

Science and Innovation

The UK and South Africa recognised the importance of science and technology co-operation in driving development and prosperity and enhancing service delivery to society. Both sides commended the positive initiatives in science and innovation since the 2013 Bilateral Forum, including re-invigoration of the South Africa-United Kingdom Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement (1995).

Ministers acknowledged the Newton Fund partnership as a key pillar in the bilateral relationship and emphasised the success of the programme since its launch in September 2014. Both sides agreed to work towards an extension of the Newton Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) from three to five years until 2019, subject to the availability of resources, on the basis of the fund’s core principles of co-ownership and co-investment and focus on human capacity building and innovation. They committed to trilateral Newton partnerships with Egypt and Kenya, in order to deepen UK and South African collaboration across the region. A Newton Fund publication to mark one year of the joint programme was launched, to illustrate current and future activities and the growing impact of the partnership in both countries.

The UK and South Africa agreed to prioritise a range of other areas outside the Newton framework, including to work with South Africa’s Global Knowledge Partnerships Programme to widen the pipeline of PhD students studying in both countries, to focus on the commercial and scientific opportunities in space science and research in order to capitalise on £8.5m of UK-South Africa industry linkages under the UK’s 2015 International Space Partnerships Programme, to deepen linkages around the Square Kilometre Array Telescope, associated big data initiatives and the start of intergovernmental treaty negotiations to establish an SKA International Organisation, following the decision to locate the SKA HQ in the UK.  

Ministers highlighted the educational and scientific significance of the world land-speed record attempt in South Africa by the Bloodhound Supersonic Car in 2016-17 which hopes to inspire the next global generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians, and welcomed the outreach and awareness training opportunities to take place in both counties, including using the platform of the South Africa Science Forum in December 2015.


Ministers welcomed the finalization of a Declaration of Intent for co-operation on Higher Education and Skills, which will be signed in 2016. They further welcomed the partnership between the Department of Higher Education and Training and the British Council to convene Going Global 2016 in Cape Town, bringing together international experts on Higher Education and providing an opportunity for UK and SA institutions to deepen collaboration. Ministers welcomed the ambition within the Staffing South Africa’s Universities Framework to support transformation of the Higher Education sector and commended partnerships to support these objectives.

The UK and South Africa pledged to invest in leadership development for Technical and Vocational Education and Training following the success of bilateral collaboration on skills, including the Skills for Employability programme. The UK will assist South Africa in identifying industry partners for their apprenticeship project and develop a joint programme to increase access to digital skills for the post-school sector.

Ministers welcomed successful cooperation between the UK and South Africa on a range of initiatives in Basic Education.  Collaboration will continue in English Language Training, where progammes can now reach every teacher and assist learners across South Africa. Additional cooperation will support Maths, Science, and Technology education through teacher training, promote participation and attainment; support inclusive education through teacher development in the area of special education needs; and work with provincial education departments to implement the Connecting Classrooms programme to boost core skills learning.  The UK and South Africa will identify areas where British companies could support digital transformation in South African classrooms in partnership with provincial authorities.

Arts, Culture, Sport and Society

Ministers acknowledged the successes of the SA-UK Seasons 2014 and 2015, with 450 South African artists visiting the UK over the past 18 months to participate in 80 events with audiences of over 500 000.  In South Africa, the British Council in turn collaborated in 70 projects consisting of over 300 events, involving 2000 artists and professionals, reaching audiences of over 500,000 and millions online. Ministers further welcomed the continued legacy and welcomed exchange programmes, particularly support to emerging artists and creative art forms, and pledged to continue collaboration in Arts and Culture. They noted the opportunity for collaboration in forthcoming events. Institution to institution linkages in support of cultural skills development and unlocking the economic and creative potential of the arts were identified as future areas of cooperation.

UK Ministers congratulated South Africa on being appointed hosts of the 2022 Commonwealth Games and pledged to cooperate on the Games drawing on the experiences of Glasgow 2014. Ministers encouraged a Memorandum of Understanding between the British High Commission and the Department of Sport and Recreation to support Durban 2022, including on regeneration, job creation, and creating a legacy.  

Ministers recognised the partnership between South Africa Football Association, the British Council and the Barclays Premier League to deliver the Premier Skills programme in South Africa, assisting with the development of coaching and community leadership in football clubs across South Africa.   In support of leadership development through sport, Ministers acknowledged the partnership between South African and UK institutions to resource the British Council’s Try Rugby initiative, and expressed hope to see future expansion.

Ministers emphasised the important role young people have in shaping the future of their countries and agreed there should be more comprehensive, regular dialogue on youth development programmes. Ministers welcomed work to support youth employment through English language training, teacher-training, leadership-skills and digital skills. Ministers committed to facilitate links between young people in both countries.

Ministers welcomed the increase in funding for Chevening scholarships from which over 50 young South Africans had been awarded scholarships to study postgraduate degree programmes in the UK during the last two years. They encouraged officials on both sides to exchange ideas on how to most effectively attract a wide range of future scholars.


The health dialogue is gaining momentum wherein both sides reiterated the importance of sharing expertise and working collaboratively on building capacity. Ministers agreed that strengthening cooperation on health reform and global health will be conducive to improving health services and attaining global health targets. Both sides reiterated their commitment to the UK-South Africa MoU on Health Cooperation signed in 2014 and the 2015 Action Plan supporting the work taking place under the MoU.  The two sides have prioritised cooperation on health policy, health security, global health, and health care provision, especially in the areas of health systems governance, health insurance (Universal Health Coverage) and antimicrobial resistance. Additionally, both sides will further strengthen their cooperation and knowledge sharing in the regulation of medicines and medical devices to improve product safety.

Borders and Security

Ministers welcomed increased exchange visits by law enforcement agencies and agreed to continue valuable operational cooperation, including sharing best practice, information and training initiatives, and strengthening practical cooperation on tackling child trafficking and child protection.

Ministers noted that the South African Revenue Service and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will continue to exchange experiences and work collaboratively, including joint work to enhance the training of Revenue Authorities in the Southern African region where possible, to share information to combat the illicit tobacco trade and build a more comprehensive ability to counter attacks by cyber criminals.

Ministers noted the constructive discussions between officials on entry prerequisites between South Africa and the UK as well as the UK’s recent lifting of visa requirements for South African diplomats. Ministers looked forward to progressing this issue and agreed to share experience on border security and policing.

Environment & Energy

UK and South Africa underlined the threat of dangerous climate change and pledged to work together towards an ambitious legally binding agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015 that is applicable to all and that is consistent with keeping the rise in average global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius, within a timeframe sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner. Both sides felt it was particularly important that the Paris Agreement promotes a long term vision for reducing vulnerability, and strengthening resilience in order to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. They also felt it important that the agreement can increase ambition over time towards the below 2 degree objective. In this regard, Ministers support the inclusion of a long-term goal, the adoption of legally binding commitments for Parties and a five-yearly review of the adequacy and fairness of these commitments. They supported a strong transparency and accountability regime to track and understand progress towards action and support provided and received.

Ministers emphasised the importance of climate finance and honouring the commitment of developed countries to mobilise jointly US$100bn per year by 2020. Both Ministers agreed on the importance of predictable and transparent climate finance post 2020.

Ministers recognised the importance of the transition to a low-carbon economy, including through a diversified energy mix, and the opportunities this provides for sustainable development and economic growth and agree on the importance of the necessary means of implementation to enable such a transition. They welcomed cooperation so far, for example on the feasibility of carbon tax and trading measures, and pledged to continue cooperation. Ministers also noted the scope for further co-operation on inter alia renewable energy, Carbon Capture and Storage, energy storage, efficiency and security.


The UK and South Africa have a close and effective defence relationship working together to increase regional security and stability and to deliver more effective armed forces, including South Africa's capabilities as a Troop Contributing Country to UN and AU-mandated Peace Missions in Africa.  Ministers welcomed the extension of the British Peace Support Team South Africa tenure, enabling the continued transfer of skills and expertise to the South African National Defence Force and the opportunity to develop further the UK’s support to South Africa and strengthen the partnership.

South Africa expressed its appreciation for the significant contribution to military education, training and development including funding senior officers at the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Advanced Command and Staff Course and providing UK speakers to the South Africa National Defence College's flagship programmes.  

Ministers noted other collaboration including Royal Air Force / South African Air Force Hawk pilot instructor exchange posts and the frequent bilateral training activities between the Royal Navy and the South African Navy.  Ministers agreed to maintain close bilateral cooperation on regional security and stability, including biennial Defence Staff Talks, and welcomed the recent visit to the UK by the South African Minister of Defence and Military Veterans and the Secretary for Defence.





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