One rich country diplomat tells how when he arrived in SA in 2019 and suggested that his country’s development finance arm might be keen to make some cheap finance available to the government to support its energy transition plans, he was quite firmly rebuffed. “Didn’t your predecessor brief you that the SA sovereign doesn’t borrow from international financial institutions [IFIs]?” he was asked.

SA has come a long way since. The Covid-19 pandemic combined with the climate imperative to drive a policy shift which proved to be more fundamental than was evident in mid-2020, when the government reversed its 25-year-old decision not to borrow from IFIs and raised a $4.3bn loan from the IMF...

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