Mission Impossible: Modernizing South Sudan vs. Building Ramciel City

Posted: February 12, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Featured Articles, Mayen Ayarbior, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

The Intractable Challenge to Modernizing the Republic of South Sudan vs. Building Ramciel City

By David Mayen Ayarbior, Juba, South Sudan


David Mayen Ayarbior, a Lawyer, Political Economist, and International Security specialist, is the author of House of War: Civil War and State Failure in Africa

February 12, 2017 (SSB) — A couple of weeks ago our country (Juba City) was ornamented by a visit from His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco which lasted for about twenty-four hours (or two days).  During the visit, South Sudan and Morocco signed MOUs and Cooperation Agreements in many areas, including mining, agriculture and more important: construction of a whole new capital city in Ramciel.

Being one of the richest businessmen in Africa, the Moroccan King’s first visit to a sub-Saharan African country would not have been possible if he wasn’t convinced that it made good business sense. Nonetheless, it remains a very good gesture from the King to look for business in our country. Like a few other sub-Saharan countries, the potential opportunities for huge business profit in ours are immense.

The visit has been discussed by South Sudanese everywhere. For those in government it wouldn’t have happened at a more opportune juncture as this one, where only condemnations are flying all over the place. Not only has the government been chastised by the international community and accused of all kinds of human rights violations, its very legitimacy is being challenged by potent rebellions at home. It is also struggling with “managing” the economy.

Keeping aside the political and possible economic significance of the visit, the question under serious discussion on our streets is whether South Sudan is in dire need of a new modern capital city. So many good arguments are there in favour of ‘the Ramciel dream’. Indeed, in principal, I also find myself inclined towards having Ramciel as the future capital city of South Sudan. However, the main question to me and others is: when?

Looking at the bigger picture, our country is currently devastated by a man-made disaster which is unparalleled in Africa’s recent history. Very few countries in Africa might have experienced something closer to what is currently happening here.

Eighty percent (5.8 million) of the country are food insecure (according to the Council of Ministers, Friday February 10, 2017). Over 1.5 million refugees in the region (UNHCR, February 2017). Millions of internally displaced, including over one hundred and fifty thousand hosted by UNMISS PoCs alone. An inflation rate of over 1, 500%. And to cap it all, there is no end in sight to the civil war which triggered this disaster.  Where does a brand new city fall in here!?

First of all, the resettlement of the millions who are currently uprooted from their homes may need USD billions. Should they wait for over ten years before Ramciel is built? Secondly, the most fundamental prerequisite for a city is presence of a big population. To that end, we already have so many big cities with big populations. The only thing they require from government is services.

For one example, the ethnically diverse population of Juba is (used to be) approximately 1.5 million. The combined population in neighborhoods like Munuki, Gudele, Hai Referendum, Gure and Jebel could be more than half a million. They have been waiting patiently for public amenities (tarmac roads, electricity and water grids, primary schools, hospitals, etc.). The cost of such amenities is very high. It must include construction of a hydro power plant (e.g. Fulla).

Moreover, the people (existing cities and states) of South Sudan are begging for inter-state roads and railway connections. They want to visit and trade among each other easily. Millions in our country dream of a journey from Wau to Juba to Malakal and Bentiu, but this time on a train which is full of different tribes.

Unless “our” King promised everything (including inter-state roads, which is laughable), they would rather the money (loans) he offered for building our dream City (Ramciel) to be rechanneled to the more urgent priorities of connecting the states of South Sudan and building social infrastructures in existing cities.

Finally, since I have brought my/our message home, I don’t believe that any foreigner (Kings and Emperors included) can build a whole new modern city in another country. It has never happened in human history, except for Alexander the Great who thought he was going to settle in Alexandria (Egypt), a city in his Roman Empire anyways.

The Moroccan King is worth about $2.5 billion in terms of personal wealth. His country is not the richest in our poor Africa. And even if Egypt was behind the whole dream-city sham for its own Jonglei Canal nightmare, from which it refused to wake up, it would not be a worthy trade for us. In fact, the Canal will never be built, period. Egypt and Morocco, and the whole Arab world should just enjoy dreaming about it for that is the maximum they can get from the whole disastrous project. Dreaming about it.

In conclusion, countries that have two capitals like Nigeria, Ivory Coast and South Africa had just selected and modernized existing cities to be their new political capitals. It is of course possible and better to build one from scratch. But, of all rich and economically stable African countries, how can it be South Sudan:  the poorest and suffering, the falling apart and destroyed, the bleeding and weeping beloved country?  It doesn’t add up at all, it just doesn’t.

The writer is a Lawyer, Political Economist, and International Security specialist. He is the author of: House of War (Civil War and State Failure in Africa). He can be reached at mayen.ayarbior@gmail.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made are the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

  1. Alam says:

    Great observation! our people have been fooled for so long and this has to stop period. It’s laughable to think another country will build a capital city for us. Kiirdit and his colleagues will sell South Sudan on a discount. They have opened several billions dollar credit line with another Arab country to continue to financed the senseless war. They have borrowed several millions from the Chinese government and Oil companies. And other unknown borrowings from Russia (military equipment). The whole country frankly is screwed as long as this foolish leaders continued to duke out their childish war at the expense of their people. All in all, no other country will bailed out South Sudan out of the messed currently baking everybody left and right but South Sudanese themselves.

    If we have a country, why do our politicians stayed in Crown Hotels ( a foreign hotel) and others hotels alike owned by foreigners instead of the one built by South Sudanese businesses. Government money wasted and they always look for ready made solution from outside instead of within. Home grown solutions are needed in South Sudan.



  2. Gatwich S. says:

    hahahaha. hahahahah. hahahahaaaaaaa. I am laughing at myself because i believed in the dream city scam. thank you comrade Ayarbior for slapping me to wake up. thank you, SIR.


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