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  • 1 Stellenbosch University Centre for Research on Science and Technology (CREST) Private Bag X1 Matieland 7602 Stellenbosch South Africa
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This study investigates South–South collaboration in research, and specifically collaboration among the 15 countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as between the SADC and the rest of Africa. It was found that only 3% of SADC papers during 2005–2008 were jointly authored by researchers from two or more SADC countries (intra-regional collaboration), and only 5% of SADC papers were jointly authored with researchers from African countries outside the SADC (continental collaboration). In contrast, 47% of SADC papers were co-authored with scientists from high-income countries. The few instances of intra-regional and continental collaboration in the SADC are largely the product of North–South collaboration. Authors from high-income countries are included in 60% of intra-regional co-authored papers and in 59% of continental co-authored papers. Moreover, between 2005 and 2008, South Africa produced 81% of all SADC papers and 78% of all intra-regional co-authored papers. This implies that there is a highly unbalanced and unequal partnership that can best be described as a variant of North–South collaboration with the scientific giant in the South taking on the role of the ‘political North’. As a consequence, guidelines for successful North–South collaborations should be extended to include South–South collaborations that comprise highly unequal partners, as is the case between South Africa and the other SADC countries.