South African-German Energy Partnership

Project description

Title: South African-German Energy Partnership
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
Country: South Africa
Lead executing agency: Department of Energy (DoE)
Overall term: 2016 to 2018



South Africa's energy sector is heavily dependent on fossil fuels; the proportion of coal, oil and gas used in power generation stands at approximately 90 per cent. The primary source of energy is coal, making the nation one of the top 20 countries with the highest carbon emissions in the world.

Key goals for South African energy policy include energy efficiency, a reliable energy supply, job creation and an increasing share of renewable energies relative to overall power generation.

Given its significant economic prowess, South Africa has become an interesting target market for German companies operating in the field of renewable and conventional energy production.


South Africa is positioning itself as a beacon country for a sustainable energy supply in the region. This is making an important contribution to both climate change mitigation and to defusing global competition for dwindling energy commodities.



The South African-German Energy Partnership, which was launched in 2013, supports the development of a sustainable energy infrastructure – in particular low-carbon electricity production through the use of renewable energies – and increasing energy efficiency in South Africa.

The bilateral Energy Partnership is a fusion of high-level government dialogue with practical, goal-oriented project work. Involvement of the German and South African private sectors is an integral part of the process.

On a political level, a high-ranking steering committee meets once a year at State Secretary (Germany) and Deputy Minister (South Africa) level – alternating between Germany and South Africa. A working group for energy is positioned directly below this level. Under the guidance of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the South African Department of Energy, this working group sets out the cooperation's technical content once a year, involving the private sector, science and civil society in the process.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is lending support to the Energy Partnership on behalf of the German Government, and runs its Secretariat based in Pretoria. The Secretariat acts as the link between the partner ministries and is the point of contact for German and South African stakeholders wishing to become involved in the Energy Partnership.

In addition, GIZ advises BMWi on the programme's content, and also organises official Partnership meetings. During project work, for example, GIZ organises expert workshops, training sessions, studies and delegation visits in connection with individual priority topics. Currently, the priority topics are:

  • New business models for renewable energy and municipal utilities
  • Hydrogen and fuel cell technology with a focus on bus applications
  • Research cooperation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Supporting the German Energiewende ('energy transition’) companies in South Africa: The Business Advisory Council to the Energy Partnership is tasked with discussing economic issues with German and South African companies, and feeding them into the political discussion (business-to-government, or B2G for short).


  • Overall, four high-ranking steering committee meetings and five energy working group meetings were organised.
  • A total of six studies and discussion papers have been published covering topics such as solar-powered hot water production, cooperation in the field of energy research, hydrogen research, micro-biogas plant utilisation in the Eastern Cape and new business models for municipal utilities in Germany and South Africa.
  • As part of the project, four study tours were made to Germany (topics: carbon capture and storage, flexibility of conventional power plants, hydrogen-powered fuel cell buses, new business models for municipal utilities).
  • There were three workshops held in South Africa, which focussed (among other things) on the business potential for the private sector or for fuel cell buses.
  • The project hosted two meetings of the local Business Advisory Council to the Energy Partnership.

Further information