Embassy of Belgium celebrates 25 years of development cooperation in South Africa

27 June 2019

The Belgium government has invested close to half a billion rand in South African development over the past 25 years, in projects ranging from ICT training to skills development, from academic access to public health solutions, from TB/HIV prevention to land reform and rural development.

This remarkable collaborative achievement, facilitated by the Belgian government’s Development Cooperation and, more recently, through the ENABEL development agency, was celebrated with a conference in Pretoria on 27 June.

The event, hosted by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium in South Africa, HE Didier Vanderhasselt (pictured left), was attended by Robin Toli, Chief Director International Development Cooperation at South Africa’s National Treasury, delegates from ENABEL, including Director General Jean Van Wetter, as well as other Belgium and South African government and NGO delegates.

Amongst the many multi-participatory projects over the past 25 years, several stand out:

•    The Belgian-South African Study and Consultancy Fund, which kicked off in 2010 and came to an end last year, provided rapid and innovative support to improve the efficacy and quality of service delivery at all levels of government. Skills development was set up in the small business and informal sectors. The fund, which had a budget of close to €3 million (about R50 million), focused especially on those niche areas where government departments and agents lacked proficiency.

•    The Tirelo Bosha Grants Facility, founded with the South African National Treasury, was instituted at the end of June 2013 and will be completed by June this year. The budget of €11 million (almost R184 million) facilitates more than 40 pilot projects in a variety of public service delivery fields, including education, health, housing and transport, has been dedicated to building the capacity of government staff.

•    The Building Academic Partnerships for Economic Development (BAPED), in effect since 2016, has created a strong, viable academic network, delivering business-orientated skills development, training and research. This included national and international exchange initiatives, such as study tours, seminars, workshops and matchmaking visits. Through the creation of knowledge-sharing platforms, scholarships and accelerated learning projects, the inclusion of historically disadvantaged institutions and individuals was enabled.

•    The Belgium government also assisted with the prevention of tuberculosis (TB), HIV and STIs, including care and support services. The programme of €6,2 million (R104 million) enhanced the capacity of the Department of Health to deliver a higher standard, and scaled TB/HIV service to the South African population. The greater managerial and technical capacity of provincial health departments led to the accelerated implementation of TB/HIV districts in all provinces, in conjunction with civil society.

•    The Participatory Settlement and Development Support to Land Reform Beneficiaries and Rural Citizens Project (PSDS) concluded at the end of 2016 and involved a budget of €6,05 million (R101 million). The focus was on poverty alleviation through the creation of rural sustainable livelihoods within the context of the land restitution programme. Belgium was one of the few donor countries to contribute to land reform initiatives in South Africa.

One chapter closes; another begins. With a wide range of Belgian NGOs, investment partners and governmental agencies still focused on sustainable and impactful initiatives in South Africa, and through our core funding of international organizations present in South Africa, we’re committed to many future collaborations.

Photo: General Representative of Flanders in South Africa, Dr. Geraldine  Reymenants hosted a reception for Flanders Day where the vibrant young dancers from Moving into Dance entertained guests. Dr. Reymenants informed guests that her term in South Africa has been extended for another five year period.

The Flemish Region, working in close cooperation with South Africa since 1994, will continue its many activities in the fields of culture, research and innovation, trade, education, language, human rights and youth policy. When it comes to its development cooperation, Flanders recognised South Africa as one of three priority countries, besides Mozambique and Malawi. Only recently, the Government of Flanders granted €4.5 million to three innovative projects in Southern Africa, a tangible commitment in the fight against climate change.

Through Belgium’s Trade for Development Centre, we’ll continue to support sustainable tourism in Southern Africa. The aim is for the financial benefits of tourism to filter down as far as possible to small businesses, local traders and small-scale suppliers in support of fair-trade initiatives. Another impactful initiative, headed by the Belgian VVOB development organisation, provides support to ministries of education in Africa in order to improve the quality of their educational systems. And through our NGO Red Cross Flanders, we support Red Cross South Africa in empowering communities in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo to become more self-reliant when it comes to first aid.  

This conference allows us to reflect on all we’ve achieved together. Our projects have come to fruition – however, for the Embassy of Belgium in South Africa, the conference marks the continuation of many more beneficial initiatives.

Embassy of Belgium in South Africa