Regional development cooperation


Finland is engaged in regional development cooperation carried out in several countries. The aim is to support the resolution of cross-border problems and to strengthen regional integration. Regional cooperation complements other forms of support.

Finland provides funding to and carries out regional cooperation in many areas in which it has special expertise. These include innovation activities, peace-building, rights of persons with disabilities, promotion of equality, energy, and sustainable use of natural resources. The activities may be approached in different ways in different geographical regions.

Funding is often channelled via international organisations, regional economic and cooperation organisations, and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs).

Finland’s support to Sub-Saharan Africa is varied

Finland plays a role in the handling of cross-border themes through participating in regional development cooperation. In East Africa, Finland supports the promotion of regional trade, regional integration, and mediation. In Southern Africa, Finland focuses on the advancement of science, technology and innovations as well as on climate change mitigation.

Renewable energy and jobs

Finland supports the EEP Programme in Southern and East Africa (EEP S&EA). The programme has provided access to renewable energy for over 900,000 households in Southern and Eastern Africa, and over 8,000 jobs have been created. 

The programme is implemented in fifteen African countries and its aim is to enhance energy security. It also seeks to improve energy efficiency, helping to mitigate climate change.

The programme funds various projects relating to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Funding is provided mainly for projects carried out by private companies but civil society organisations’ projects have been supported, too. The projects to which funding is given are selected through an open call for proposals. In the selection of projects for funding, special attention is paid to the quality of projects and to the opportunity of transferring the lessons learnt in the course of the project to other energy sector projects in the region. 

Finland is the lead donor of the EEP S&EA. The Nordic Development Fund, UK and Austria are other major providers of funding. Phase III of the programme starts in 2018.

More information about projects funded under the programme, including about the achievements that have been attained.

Studies and reports dealing with the EEP Programme.


Regional projects under way in 2018, which Finland funded by over EUR million: 

  • Energy and Environment Partnership Programme in Southern and East Africa (EEP S&EA) in 15 countries.  The EEP Programme has its own programme organisation. Finland’s support for Phase III of the EEP Programme in 2018–2022 is EUR 15 million. 
  • Development of the Southern Africa Network for Biosciences (SANBio). The SANBio Network comprises 12 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.  Finland’s support for Phase II of the Finnish-Southern Africa Partnership Programme to strengthen NEPAD/SANBio (BioFISA) in 2015–2018 is EUR 6 million.
  • The Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme (SAIS) promotes economic growth and poverty reduction. The programme provides information about local markets for Team Finland actors. Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Tanzania. Finland's funding will be EUR 8.7 million for Phase II in the years from 2017 to 2021.
  • Building Trade Capacity through Customs Modernization in the East and Southern Africa Region supports the participation of countries in the region in international trade. 24 participating countries. EUR 3 million. Implemented by the World Customs Organization (WCO) 2016–2018.
  • Supporting economic integration and promoting enhanced trade through funding the TradeMark East Africa (TMEA). The project is implemented by Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA), which is a non-profit company,  Finland's support for the project in 2017–2020 totals EUR 9.8 million.
  • Finland supports the strengthening of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The organisation’s aim is to promote peace and development in the region. Finland's support for the project in 2019–2020 totals 1 million. 

Promoting use of renewable energy in the Mekong Region

Finland is also supporting a regional Energy and Environment Partnership Program in the Mekong Region (EEP Mekong). The programme aims to enhance the use of renewable energy and cleaner technologies. The goals include improving energy efficiency, increasing availability of energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and fighting climate change. 

The countries of the Mekong delta area, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, participate in the regional EEP cooperation.  The programme favours private and public sector partnerships. Practical cooperation is used to encourage the use of renewable energy and to reach energy efficiency. By the end of 2017, a total of 37 projects, ranging from small CSO projects to large industrial projects, have been funded. The budget for the EEP Mekong for the years from 2009 to 2019 is EUR 17.9 million. 


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