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.