The Dynamics of the South Sudanese Economic Growth and Development

Posted: December 2, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Economy, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Manyuon Dhieu Chol, Juba, South Sudan




December 2, 2017 (SSB) — A country’s economic success is measured by looking at that its economic growth and development. This piece defines and explains economic growth and economic development in respect to the current economic state of South Sudan. A country’s economic growth is generally indicated by an increase in her gross domestic product (GDP). GDP is an economic model that reflects the value of a country’s output; a total of her monetary values of all the goods and services produced by that country over a specific period.

On the other hand, economic development is the progress in an economy. It refers to the adoption of new technologies, the transition from agriculture-based to an industry-based economy, and general improvement in living standards of the citizens’ quality of life when the below-listed factors are practical:

  1. Political Stability

A stable political scene is one where the ruling government is favored by the population and does not experience strong indicators of social unrest. While there are problems within any nation, and times of war or hardship are common, a stable political system is one that can withstand these occurrences without major societal upheaval and ongoing endurance of these circumstances.

Much of the ability of a political system to sustain itself relies on how leaders respond to crises. People must be satisfied with how their rulers handle problems and the solutions they create or else, the fallout from these events results in a destruction of hierarchies and government institutions/agencies. Rebellions, violence, and public brutality are associated with failed political stability.

Political stability requires that the public interacts freely, democratically and openly with legislators on a regular basis. Granting individuals, a say in how a nation is run under the rule of law, democracy and the supremacy of judiciary. What this means for South Sudan is that: ‘Parties to the ongoing conflict should sit down and have an honest dialogue about issues surrounding the causes of conflict between parties and/or communities’.

The assurance of political stability in South Sudan will persuade investors and international communities to have confidence of investing their hard-earned money in the country, the opposite is true if the country has shown no political will to move away from violence.

  1. Infrastructural Development

Investment in infrastructural development boosts economic growth and development. Particularly, in catastrophe affected areas, the reconstruction of essential public infrastructures is an important ingredient for economic recovery, sustained economic growth and poverty reduction.

Infrastructural development programs contribute to the rebuilding and development of physical infrastructures which help impoverished calamity affected communities by improving their access to essential infrastructures such as: schools, hospitals, houses, easing access to water and sewers supply schemes; roads, bridges, electrical grids, banking and finance industry (stock exchange markets and monetary and fiscal policies), telecommunications and renewable energy plants which employ local-skilled and un-skilled labors for construction work.

Political stability in South Sudan will be enhanced when supported by proper road network where every corner of the country is accessible from the capital, Juba (which is the seat of the government). Now, most parts of South Sudan (over 80%) are inaccessible from Juba and government services / public services are therefore blocked from reaching the needy population.

In recent, more network service providers like Gemtel have closed their doors due to financial constraints of operating business in South Sudan which made their areas of operation blackout in terms of mobile telephone communication. Others telecommunication companies like Vivacell, MTN, and Zain have no wider area of coverage as some parts of the country are the blackout.

  1. Agricultural Development

Agricultural development improves food security, fibers, fuels, and raw materials production of specific nourishments like cereals (grains), vegetables, fruits, oils, meats, and spices. Fibers include cotton, wool, hemp, silk, and flax. Raw materials include lumber and bamboo. Other useful materials are also produced by plants, such as resins, gum, dyes, drugs, perfumes, biofuels and ornamental products such as cut flowers and nursery plants.

Investment in merchandized/modernized farming assists in research spheres; employing latest techniques, controlling pests and facilitating the variety of yields and diversity all fall within the purview of agriculture development.
The following steps can be adopted for bringing about agriculture development in the agriculture market.

  • Carrying out research relating to resources. Designing or creating information for stakeholders and the farmers.
    • Research and development in the fields associated with organization and partnership amongst individuals conducting research, producing crops etc.
    • Designing projects for the estimation of crop yield. Also applying and transferring technologies.
    • Management of pests, certification, plans for using lands in a specific manner, providing financial help etc.
    Technical help for land use is also an important part of agriculture development.
    Land issues relating to agricultural land include:
    • Preservation of resources associated with agricultural land
    • Reducing disputes between the agricultural community and the residents in the rural areas.
    • Agriculture development also includes helping farmers about animal agriculture.
    The agricultural development consists of planning on deforestation issues, estimation or evaluation of the latest technologies used for agricultural development for the national as well as states agricultural programs.

In any country and mostly in Africa, Agriculture is the backbone of their economies and the main source of livelihood to local farmers. South Sudan is blessed with oil deposits but this should only bridge the gap between recovering from the war to fully agriculturalized economy. As Dr. John Garang de Mabior, (the former C-in-C of SPLA, Chairman of SPLM and First Vice President of Sudan and President of Autonomous region of Southern Sudan) once said that the revenue from the oil drilling sect shall be used to develop agriculture sect.

This was a huge statement and if well managed would have propelled the dwindling South Sudan economy into the right path. South Sudan has a large agricultural land rich for farming if support can ease the country over-reliance on difficult import business as it will booze export and balance the accounts. While this is something doable from the outright, it needs a politically stable environment and improved infrastructure to ease movement of farm produce to the markets. Farmers need support in term of seeds and fertilizers and above all farm implements like tractors, bulldozers to clear bushes, malodas, jembes etcetera.

  1. Health Care

Healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health via the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in human beings. Healthcare is delivered by health professionals (providers or practitioners) in allied health professions, physicians, physician associates, dentistry, midwifery, nursing, medicine, optometry, audiology, pharmacy, psychology, and other health professions. It includes the work done in providing primary care, secondary care, and tertiary care, as well as in public health.

A healthy nation is a productive nation by Andrew Carnie states how nations can be stronger if they have firmly believed in improved health care system. Every Country, South Sudan included, has its own way of dealing with health care system and at times led to many debates. South Sudan need the three factors we discussed above in their stable state to be able to cater for her dire healthcare sect in a meaningful way.

Without political stability, coupled with improved infrastructure development and improved agricultural muscles, there can never be any serious discussions on health care system as it depends largely on these factors. We can only talk about survival of infant-maternal health!

  1. Educational Development

Education for Sustainable Development describes the practice of teaching for sustainability. Education sustainable development issues into teaching and learning. This may include, for example, instruction about climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, and poverty reduction and sustainable consumption.

It also requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviors and act for sustainable development. Education sustainable development consequently promotes competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.

The aspiration of sustainable development requires us to resolve common problems and tensions and to recognize new horizons. Economic growth and the creation of wealth have reduced global poverty rates, but vulnerability, inequality, exclusion, and violence have increased within and across societies throughout the world.

Unsustainable patterns of economic production and consumption contribute to global warming, environmental degradation and an upsurge in natural disasters. Moreover, while international human rights frameworks have been strengthened over the past several decades, the implementation and protection of these norms remain a challenge. For example, despite the progressive empowerment of women through greater access to education, they continue to face discrimination in public life and in employment.

Violence against women and children, particularly girl-child education, continues to undermine their rights. Again, while technological development contributes to greater interconnections and offers new avenues for exchange, cooperation, and solidarity, we also see an increase in cultural and religious intolerance, identity-based political mobilization and conflict.

Education must find ways of responding to such challenges, considering multiple worldviews and alternative knowledge systems, as well as new frontiers in science and technology such as the advances in neurosciences and the developments in digital technology. Rethinking the purpose of education and the organization of learning has never been more urgent.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” To quote Nelson Mandela of South Africa. If you look at the ethnic conflicts in South Sudan which is fueled by the scrambling for power by the politicians, the majority perpetrators are the youth who are illiterate or semi-illiterate and the learned are keyboard warriors, it tells you that lack of quality education is contributing to lawlessness and harming economy even worse.

Just to cite one case, currently, the standard 8 (eight) pupils are yet to sit for their final year examination all over South Sudan due to lack of money to print examination papers. This is a terrible situation to be in if we want to move higher the ladder of literacy. There is no other way to help us change the mentality of those young generations if we cannot support basic education from time to time. South Sudan as a country needs structures in every part of it geared to elevate education and fight illiteracy.

The educated youth will find the job easily compared to their counterparts who are illiterate and can, therefore, find no time to participate in lawlessness acts like robbery, cattle raiding, road ambushing, stealing among other vices which weaken communities’ social fabrics.

  1. Trade Industry

Trade is the key factor in economic development. The prudent use of trade boosts a country’s economic development and creates absolute gains for the trading partners involved. Trade has been touted as an important tool in the path to economic development by prominent economists. However, trade may not be the only panacea for economic development as important questions surrounding how free trade really is and the harms trade can cause to domestic infant industries to come into plays.

We should keep that in mind! The current consensus is that trade, economic development, and poverty reduction are intimately linked. Sustained economic growth over longer periods is associated with poverty reduction, while trade and growth are inter-linked. Countries that develop invariably increase their integration with the global economy, while export-led growth has been a key part of many countries’ successful development strategies.

Continents, countries, and institutions that have not developed economically and remain largely poor have the comparative advantage in three main areas:

  • natural resource exploitation, i.e. running down of natural capital such as rainforest timber;
    • low-education labor-intensive manufacturing, due to high population densities and little suitable land per person;
    • agriculture, due to low population densities and relatively large areas of suitable land per person.

Crucially for poverty reduction, the latter two at least are labor-intensive, helping to ensure that growth in these sectors/institutions will be poverty-reducing. However, low value-added, price instability and sustainability in these commodity sectors/institutions mean they should be used only temporarily and as stepping stones in the path to economic development.

In case of South Sudan, is joining EAC a plus or minus? I believe it is a plus in the sense that if we can produce things of economic value and export to East Africa at a favorable cost those member countries enjoyed, then we can be at a better position because we have large farming lands, longest river throughout the country.

With these natural resources, which are a source of fish, forest, etc South Sudan will improve her foreign reserves which are crucial in economic stability. The country is rich in many other minerals like zinc, gold, and copper which can find markets through East Africa Community as opposed to when there was none.

  1. Industrial Revolution

Industries are established after the mapping of the available natural resources (fertile land, water resources, forests, rivers, animals, and mountains). Installing industries to process: food components (edible/cooking oil, fisheries, flour milling, meat-canning industry, milk processing, water bottling industries, soft and hard drinks, fruits, vegetables), oil and gases production, soap, refineries (diesel, petrol paraffin, petrol-chemicals), exercise books (papyrus paper production), tea, coffee, tobacco, sugarcane, cotton and textile industries improve economic growth and development.

Also, the availability of the below mineral resources: Gold, Zinc, Mercury, Diamond, Copper, Ironstones are proven to be present in South Sudan. And the creation of industries creates more employment opportunities for the unemployed youth which uplifts the national GDP per capita. Consequently, other economic activities such as trade and investment opportunities would then emerge and this creates citizens’ self-independence.

South Sudan is not there yet but a stitch in time saves nine as the saying goes. Currently, we are struggling with the first three or four steps. However, all indicators are pointing to positives if there was no internal conflict that had divided the country, if there were means of transport and communication, there would be the upright standard of education and healthcare systems in place. Unless these factors are stable, industrialization cannot begin as it depends on all the above factors discussed earlier.


In South Sudan, economic growth and development will prosper if and only if new technologies, political stability, infrastructural development, agricultural development, healthcare, educational development, trade/commerce industry and industrial revolutions strategic plans are established to enhance citizens’ quality of life which is often measured using Human Development Index.

In summary, economic growth and development depends on displaying fundamental factors, such as: literacy rates, life expectancy and poverty rates, political instability, diversity of unexploited natural resources, unsound monetary and fiscal policies, social and economic unrest and inequalities, high degrees of poverty levels, public debts, poor healthcare schemes, high rate of illiteracy, high inflationary rates, poor infrastructural development, low agricultural development and food insecurity, unavailability of international trade and corruption.

The author, Manyuon Dhieu Chol, is a Research Economist at South Sudan National Bureau of Statistics (SSNBS), Juba, South Sudan and the author of ‘The Dinka Folktales: A Collection of Jieeng Short Stories and Mythologies’. He can be reached via his email:

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 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.

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