Investors Acquire Land Worth Rwanda’s Size In South Sudan

Posted: September 25, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

A report released by the Norwegian People’s Aid, (NPA) on status of investment plans in South Sudan has indicated that, 28 foreign investors have acquired land totalling 2.64 million hectares (26,400 sq km).

By Waakhe Simon Wudu

24 September 2011

Investors Acquire Land Worth Rwanda’s Size In S. Sudan

Aerial view of a vast land in South Sudan between Central Equatoria and Jonglei States [©Gurtong]

JUBA, 24th September 2011 [Gurtong] – A report released by the Norwegian People’s Aid, (NPA) on status of investment plans in South Sudan has indicated that, 28 foreign investors have acquired land totalling 2.64 million hectares (26,400 sq km).
Early this week on Wednesday, NPA organized an awareness workshop in Juba in partnership with the Central Equatoria State (CES) and invited the civil society, Members of Parliament, 6 County Commissioners in the State among other partners.
The NPA Project Manager for Land and Resources Rights, Dr. Jamus Joseph pointed out that, one factor technically leading to the mass land lease is a lack of proper coordination between the various government institutions and ministries approving land lease to the investors.
According to the report, the land is being acquired for investment on the sectors of agriculture, forestry and biofuel.
“This is larger than the entire geographical size of Rwanda. If one adds domestic investments, some of which date back to the pre-war period, and investments in tourism and conservation, the figure rises to 5.74 million hectares (57,400sqkm) or 9% of South Sudan’s total land area,” the report states.
NPA has warned of a likely danger on South Sudan’s socio-economic development if such land lease is not widely and well consulted.
“While in theory, this influx of investment could provide development opportunities for rural communities, without the appropriate procedures in place there is a danger that it will serve to undermine livelihoods,” the report warned.
In a move to address the matter, Dr, Jamus said that even though NPA is not against investment in the fledgling nation which is about two and half months since attaining independence, there should be a close coordination of all institutions in-charge of approving land lease in the country.
The NPA report recommended to the government of South Sudan, partners, civil society, companies, investors and rural communities to address the risks and opportunities of large scale land investments while urging them to;
“Adopt a presumption in favour of disclosure for all documents associated with large-scale land-based investments;
“develop clear jurisdictional roles for public institutions at all levels, including an appropriate balance between central oversight and State-level flexibility, and providing a role for the legislative branch in approving large-scale land allocations and;
“Establish a technical committee to review all existing contracts to ensure that they comply with relevant provisions of the 2009 Land Act, Local Government Act, and the 2009 Investment Promotion Act.
Speaking to Gurtong exclusively during the one day workshop, the NPA Country Director, Jan Ledang said that, unless measures on awareness on land lease in South Sudan are taken into action, the new State stands at risk of losing big parcels of land to investors which will hamper citizen’s land rights in future.
“The people of South Sudan had gained their freedom but they should be very careful so that they don’t lose their land,” Jan Ledang said.
Meanwhile, Silvano Bata, a legislator at the Central Equatoria State Assembly commended that;

“It is very important that we start to shade light on issues of land. It is good that investors are coming to invest in our country, but also we should not give the land away at the expense of our people tomorrow.”
Jan said that, NPA is going to extend the awareness workshop to all the ten States of South Sudan.

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