How to Wreck an Economy: The Case of South Sudan

Posted: August 22, 2018 by aljokd in Economy, Junub Sudan, Malith Alier

By Malith Alier, Perth, Australia


Wednesday, August 22, 2018 (PW) — With the likely advent of peace in the coming months, all the attention now turns to implementation of the agreement and the elections to crown it all. In the meantime, the parties preemptively vowed to implement the agreement in letter and spirit. Possibly they are aware of the lost opportunities by not implementing the previous agreement.

Had all gone well, by now, the country would have been a different place and no one would be in this mirage any more. This country has gone through difficult periods, characterised by famine, disease such as cholera and other preventable disasters since resuming atrocities 5 years ago.

One of the advantages of having peace is the potential to innovate and grow albeit gradually with time. The advanced nations we see and look up to today in the world ceased wars and conflict many decades ago. In the absence of war a nation is able to develop and channel its human capital solely for development. It also uses its resources exclusively for this purpose.

In The Power of Creative Reasoning, Lual Deng postulates that the time for Moses and Joshua has come and gone and that we need a development leader. Moses and Joshua refer to John Garang and Salva Kiir respectively. Garang was a great leader the independent country will miss forever.

He did not only have a vision for his people but he also had a passion for the country. Garang was always innovative in that when he realised that one endeavour had served its purpose, he quickly introduced another campaign or programme that seemed to do better.

Examples at the war front are Bright Star Campaign (B.S.C) and Operation Jungle Storm (O.J.S). Creating something new was a kind of motivation for his troops and officers. This character is sorely lacking today. Garang was also moving from continent to continent sourcing and bringing talent from exiled Sudanese abroad. This is hardly a reality today. For records, those who voluntarily returned from exile to help the country forward went back as a result of 2013 war.

After inking of the 2005 peace agreement South Sudan started injecting fuel into neighbouring countries economies particularly those of Uganda, Kenya and the Sudan. This was short lived because the country’s mainstay, oil stopped pumping northward.

With peace right now, the focus on crude resumption is definitely what South Sudan and Sudan will go for. It’s a foregone conclusion. What is not known is whether it will be business as usual because it is essentially the same circumstances with the same leaders at the helm.

Experts believe that crude blessing which is unsustainable could be used to fuel agriculture. this is like using unsustainable asset to kick start a sustainable asset or undertaking. South Sudan has in excess of 600,000 square kilometres of virgin land ready for farming. With the population of about 11 million one wonders why all the wars and for what purpose?

According to East African, South Sudan is sitting on 3.5 billion barrels of recoverable reserves believed to be 30 percent of the total potential reserves. It currently pumps 130,000 barrels per day (bpd) about  43% of what it used to pump before war in 2013. Perhaps after peace the output will reach 300,000 bpd as before the war.

The short-term South Sudan development plan released in August 2011 was to run upto 2013. No one is sure how much portion of the plan was achieved before the hell broke loose at the end of 2013. Possibly part of the plan involved agriculture which was neglected since commencement of self rule from Sudan in 2005.

It’s also on the record that much of the budgetary allocation before and after the 2013 war was spent on the military hardware and personnel. It’s reported that more than 40% went the military way. Part of the reason was that, South Sudan and Sudan had unfinished business after the war and there was a real likelihood of resumption of hostilities.

South Sudan 2018/2019 budget stood at 82 billion Pounds about 584 million US Dollars. Bulk of it as usual would go to the military and security. Another problem was how this money was going to be raised. The sources of income for the new nation, oil, severely underproduction. On the other hand the exhausted international community was nowhere to offer budgetary support to the new nation.

In most cases, the potential support was already spent on refugees and internally displaced persons out and in the country. Other potential donors or partners were not willing to throw their cash where no one would be accountable for anything.

War is the mother of destruction. Any nation in the business of wars is on the path to destruction. Our neighbours like Sudan and D.R.C can attest to this. In addition, and to lesser extend, other factors such as corruption, cronyism and lack of innovation can keep a nation away from development.

Prudent leadership can also steer a nation away from enemies of development. No nation that entertains perpetual wars tastes progress.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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