In 1997 the Southern African Development Community (SADC) adopted a treaty establishing cooperation amongst member states in education and training.
In 2001 the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) was adopted by 15 of the 53 African Union states and seeks to promote the socio-economic development and integration of Africa. Many of the principles laid out in its framework document have been translated into cooperation in education and increased student mobility across the continent.
In 2004, the Association of African Universities (AAU) met to discuss the Internationalisation of Higher Education in Africa, and the World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) which made education a tradable service. The Accra Declaration on GATS and the Internationalisation of Higher Education in Africa was issued, in collaboration with UNESCO and the Council on Higher Education of South Africa, which further promoted international student mobility across and beyond the borders of Africa.
In 2007, 51 717 international students in South Africa were from the rest of the African continent, making up 85% of the international student total. This represents a defining feature of international student inflow into South African higher education; the majority of international students are from Africa (particularly SADC countries).
Currently South Africa attracts more international students than any other country in Africa.
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