Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa has emerged as the main engine of growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the lead architects of the New partnership of Africa's Development (NEPAD), and a major force in regional stability. With a population of more than 48 million, South Africa is the biggest and most advanced economy in Africa. It has a diversified market, an abundant supply of natural resources, an established manufacturing sector, a well-developed financial services sector, as well as extensive transport infrastructure, good communications and modern distribution facilities. But it also has large areas of extreme poverty and deprivation, primarily in black communities.
South Africa ranks 121 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme's 2012 human development index. Since 1990, it has dropped about 40 places due almost entirely to the HIV/AIDS pandemic that has severely reduced life expectancy and continues to strain social services and place a huge burden on women and children. It is estimated that one out of five adults is HIV positive—the highest number of infected people in any one country in the world. There are also about 1.2 million AIDS orphans (orphans whose parents have both died of HIV/AIDS).
South Africa has sound constitutional and legal policies but lacks the capacity to implement them effectively. This is partly due to the sub-standard education that many black people received during apartheid and the slow changes to the education system since that time. The resulting skills shortage, coupled with an unemployment rate of 25 percent, makes it difficult for the Government of South Africa to deliver services to poor communities.
Canada and South Africa signed a general agreement on development cooperation (PDF, 27 KB, 1 page) in 2006. Canada's international development program in South Africa is closely aligned with the country's most important priority areas as identified in the Government of South Africa's Programme of Action 2009 (PDF, 1.23 MB, 12 pages). South Africa is committed to strengthening its regulatory and public administration systems and to delivering better public health services to its people.
The goal of Canada's international development assistance program in South Africa is to help the country improve service delivery in the area of HIV/AIDS and build accountable public institutions, as well as to help South Africa play its regional role on the continent through sharing relevant expertise.
South Africa is one of very few countries where infant and child mortality rates are rising—mainly because of mother-to-child HIV transmission at birth. Canada continues to support South Africa in implementing its 2007-2011 HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan (PDF, 146 KB, 35 pages). Canada supports efforts that focus on improving service delivery in HIV/AIDS by supporting projects that reduce the number of new HIV/AIDS infections—the vast majority occur in children and youth—and on providing school-aged children and youth with access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support services that address and take into account differences between women and men. This includes support to both government and civil society organizations.
South Africa faces a critical skills shortage, which hampers its ability to deliver services to the poor within national, provincial and local governments. Canada continues support efforts that help build accountable government and non-government institutions.
Democratic governance is one of the Government of Canada's five priority themes for international development assistance.
South Africa adheres to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (PDF, 317 KB, 23 pages) and is one of its strongest advocates-and a champion of its implementation.
Donors are encouraged to channel aid contributions through South Africa's National Treasury Reconstruction and Development Program Fund, which demonstrates local ownership, alignment with local procedures and processes, mutual accountability, and results.
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