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Experiences from the Trilateral Cooperation (TriCo) Fund


South African National Treasury, Germany Embassy, GIZ

Country (ies) and institutions

South Africa, Germany, third beneficiary African country


Recognising South Africa?s status as an economic powerhouse in the region, the South African and German Governments established a Trilateral Cooperation (TriCo) Fund in order to strengthen South Africa?s contribution to the development of the African continent by jointly implementing project activities in a third beneficiary African country. The TriCo Fund is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and managed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft f􀎵r Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Background and set-up

The Trilateral Cooperation Fund was established by the South African National Treasury and the German Government in 2007 to support South Africa in their political and developmental engagement in other African countries. Trilateral cooperation makes use of both German and South African experiences and knowledge, as well as the human, institutional and financial resources of both countries. Under the TriCo Fund, South Africa and Germany jointly undertake sustainable-development initiatives in other countries, particularly where the comparative advantages and strengths of both partners can complement each other to the benefit of the recipient country. Trilateral cooperation measures are intended to promote cooperation and development at regional and continental level, supporting South Africa in its endeavour to act as an emerging development partner throughout Africa. To this end, support is also being provided for the establishment of dedicated development-cooperation capacities within South African institutions. TriCo projects are initiated by a request from a third country or a regional organisation, the South African Government, GIZ or another German development organisation. A steering committee, consisting of representatives from the Germany Embassy and the South African National Treasury, selects and approves project proposals. Projects generally fall within one of the major areas of bilateral co-operation determined by Germany and South African in their government to government negotiations namely Governance and Administration, Energy and Climate, HIV/AIDS and Skills Development, or should contribute to the Protection of Global Public Goods. Currently the TriCo Fund supports three South African projects in the region: the Fire Management and Coordination Project in Tanzania, the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the African Ombudsman Research Centre Project in South Africa. All projects were initiated by a request from either South Africa or the third beneficial country or regional institution. Within the Fire Management Coordination Project South African and German experts support Tanzania in the improvement of community based fire management and in the analysis of relevant fire data. Furthermore, a Fire Coordination Centre is being set-up which will provide the region with valuable early-warning information on fire hazards. The Post-Conflict Project supports the South African Government in coordinating and strategically orientating its various engagements in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Furthermore, the TriCo Fund enabled the establishment of an African Ombudsman Research Centre as a knowledge hub and training centre for ombudsmen in their role as mediators and guardians of the principles of good governance in their respective countries. Two further TriCo projects are currently at an advanced stage of approval. One project is designed to support South Africa in voicing African interests at the G20 Summit; the other will assist in developing a shared understanding in Africa around performance-monitoring and evaluation. Two projects have recently been completed: a project on anti-corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a project on the training of police oversight bodies. The projects of the TriCo Fund have added to strengthening South African institutions in their capacity to implement results-orientated and sustainable South-South cooperation projects. Thereby, both countries, South Africa and Germany, have provided visible contributions to the development of the continent as equal partners. This impact is best demonstrated by the two completed projects: In the Democratic Republic of Congo an anti-corruption summit was held, bringing together for the first time more than 400 participants from civil society as well as local, provincial and national government. This event led to the establishment of an anti-corruption strategy, thereby fulfilling an important part of South Africa?s commitment to promote good governance in the DRC. The project on training police oversight bodies strengthened the investigation capacities of 160 people from seven different oversight institutions across four countries, along with police and civil society representatives. It contributed to the establishment of a network of such institutions. Due to the project?s success, the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) is currently investigating means of rolling the training programme out across the continent.

The partnership

TriCo projects can be initiated by a request from a third country or a regional organisation, the South African Government, GIZ or another German development organisation. Projects generally fall within one of the major areas of bilateral co-operation between Germany and South Africa, namely Governance and Administration, Energy and Climate, HIV/AIDS and Skills Development, or should contribute to the Protection of Global Public Goods. While the projects receive substantial funding by the German government, the project proposals must contain meaningful contributions of each of the countries. South Africa is supposed to contribute financial and technical resources as high as at least 30 % of the project value. The third country is supposed to commit to an in-kind contribution negotiated in each project individually. All project proposals should be handed in with a written letter of support by the South African Government and the third country or the regional partner in the project, stating inter alia the alignment with governmental development plans and strategies. These letters should also state the amount of funds or in-kind contributions allocated to the project. The South African partner has to be a governmental department which may delegate implementation to an implementing institution. All proposals are selected by the Steering committee consisting of the South African National Treasury and the German Embassy. The third country or regional institution is not involved in the selection process. When the project is approved further planning processes on project activities will be done by the three countries and other involved parties in the project. An operational plan and budget will be drafted jointly for the implementation of the project, whereby the involvement of the recipient country is crucial. The planning is done via workshops in South Africa and/or the third country. Information on budget, operational plan and results are available to all stakeholders. In few cases when the project deals with sensitive information and results, it can happen that the government departments won?t disclose the results of negotiations or research projects to all stakeholders. During the planning workshop, a Steering Committee comprised of all involved parties is being established in order to govern and oversee the implementation of the project.

Lessons learned

Many challenges but a lot of benefits could be observed in conducting trilateral cooperation projects. Challenges identified were an increased project management effort to manage a project in two countries and cultures and with many different stakeholders. It was observed that arising disputes between two parties can have repercussions on the entire project which can slow activities down immediately or even lead to termination of project activities. The parties need to understand the new mode of delivery before the project activities can start. There are now two donors working together and one recipient, dealing with requirements of two donors in one project measure. Opportunities and benefits of the Trilateral Cooperation arise for the third country but also for South Africa and Germany. The third country benefits from the expertise of an experienced donor and an emerging country that has successfully undergone similar changes. This way two perspectives on change are offered to the third beneficiary country. In addition, the third country receives a higher grant funding through a newly created funding stream. Germany assists South Africa to become a responsible regional power in practical learning-by-doing situations and by supporting the establishment of capacities for development cooperation in South African institutions. The joint project activities will help to increase South Africa?s reputation as a donor and increase the country?s positive outreach into the region. National Capacities like ministerial departments but also agencies and organizations receive support to cope with critical development changes. During the process of the project the South African institutions receive technical assistance by GIZ in the project implementation and management and project monitoring and evaluation. For the German international cooperation and the German government this Trilateral Cooperation Fund is a new mode of delivery and therefore, an innovative and adequate instrument of cooperation with emerging countries. The tool will help to increase ownership and partner contributions in South Africa. South Africa will develop a positive outreach on the continent and take over the role of a development partner from the Western Countries. By empowering South Africa as a new donor, contributions of traditional donors like Germany are supplemented and can be decreased over time. For the project management in general the ?Cultural proximity? of the new donor is a chance for a successful project implementation. This new approach of cooperation is not a classical South ?South- Cooperation approach but rather a step in between North-South and South-South-Cooperation. Since costs are shared between two donors and sometimes even by the beneficiary country, costs can be reduced for each country. Sustainability can be increased by building long term partnerships between two countries geographically close to each other and similar in culture. Mutual learning and knowledge exchange is a huge plus in this type of cooperation and creates motivation for all involved partner organizations. By drawing on the comparative advantages of the South Africa and Germany, contributions can be provided more effectively (achievement of objectives) than in North-South Cooperation, although the efficiency (cost-benefit) might in some cases be reduced due to increased project management efforts.

Complementarity with North-South cooperation

GIZ follows the OECD?s definition of triangular/trilateral cooperation as a partnership between a traditional donor, a new donor, and a beneficiary country, all three partners making specific contributions that create measurable value added for the beneficiary country (complementarity). Trilateral cooperation is a specific form of cooperation which complements and builds a bridge between South-South and North-South cooperation and is a key pillar of the ongoing cooperation in and with emerging economies. Very often Trilateral Projects are developed on the basis of results out of bilateral cooperation. Trilateral Projects are aimed to create an environment of joint learning and knowledge exchange through meetings, workshops, planning processes and the implementation of joint project activities. The South African ? German Trilateral Cooperation Fund is a mechanism, which not only facilitates the identification of demand and supply but also provides the human and financial resources to conduct South-South-Cooperation between South Africa and a third beneficiary African country or regional institution. The German government committed 5 million Euros to the Trilateral Cooperation Fund to be spent on trilateral interventions on the African continent. The German and the South African governments have developed certain criteria, which help to select projects. Furthermore, the Trilateral Cooperation Fund captures lessons learnt in trilateral projects in workshop and training reports and project progress reports. In addition, every project that receives funding from the Trilateral Cooperation Fund has to establish and follow a monitoring system to measure the results and evaluate the results in an evaluation report after finalizing the project.

How to share

As the provider of the mechanism to support Trilateral Cooperation Projects GIZ is very interested in sharing their solutions and models with other partners. Sharing information needs a forum and interested institutions and individuals that would like to learn about the trilateral mechanism. GIZ would be interested in participating in a forum of sharing and knowledge exchange where they and their South African partners can present the results of their project activities but also learn about other approaches. Duration of the Trilateral Cooperation Fund: August 2007 - August 2013




5 million Euro from Germany Contributions by South Africa (at least 30% of the overall project costs) and beneficiary third country dependent on the project, can be in kind but can also be in financial resources.

Name of Primary Contact Person/s

Daniel Werner

Title of Primary Contact Person/s

Project Manager GIZ

City and country

Pretoria, South Africa

Contact Email/s


+27 (0)12 423 6361

Key players

Tina Schubert Project Manager GIZ other contact details to be provided