Neuma Grobbelaar

Neuma Grobbelaar is our Director of Research and previously served in the South African diplomatic corps for 11 years.


Work Title
Director of Research
SAIIA Programme
Economic Diplomacy, SAIIA Futures
Areas of Expertise

South African business engagement with the rest of Africa
Policy environment for private sector development in Africa, especially public-private relations
Political economy of Mozambique and Angola

Country Focus
Angola, Botswana, Mozambique

German (intermediary level)


Neuma Grobbelaar is an experienced foreign policy and development expert with 28 years of specialist research, project, research management, fundraising and policy practioner experience. A former South African diplomat, she is the research director at SAIIA, a leading African Foreign policy think tank based at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her areas of research specialisation include the intersection between foreign policy, regional integration and human development; the role of the private sector in African development initiatives and South Africa’s role as an emerging development partner in Africa. She has extensive research conceptualisation and research management skills; project management and donor management skills; proposal writing, fundraising and editing skills; staff management and mentoring skills; and Monitoring and Evaluation skills. She is fully versed in developing indicators for complex projects following logical framework and results-chain approaches. She has a wide scope of knowledge of South Africa’s foreign policy, its relationship with the region, and especially its development cooperation. She has participated and contributed towards developing evaluation criteria for South-South Cooperation through her participation in the Network of Southern Think Tanks (NeST) activities, has contributed to the OECD development anthology on development risks for the Global South, has participated in a Delphi-style consultation process for the German Development Cooperation Ministry through its Future Development Policy Global Partnerships Division to frame German Development cooperation towards 2030 and has contributed to the Swiss Development Cooperation Agency’s internal strategic reframing of its development cooperation policy. She has participated in numerous international, national and regional conferences on South Africa foreign policy, peace-building, development cooperation and commercial diplomacy. She has peer-reviewed and quality assured countless papers, articles and opinion pieces and has a wide network of foreign policy and development cooperation associates – both regionally and internationally.

Content by Neuma Grobbelaar

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