International Finance Corporation A Member Of The World Bank Group South Sudan and Its Future

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South Sudan and Its Future

The government of Africa’s newest newly formed state, South Sudan, has pledged its support for private sector development in the country. It has the ambition to promote economic growth and development through public-private partnerships and dialogue with existing business leaders in the country.

This ambition was clarified at a workshop organized by the South Sudan Business Forum (SSBF) in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group in September 2011. Elizabeth Majok, Deputy Minister of Commerce said “The President himself is committed to fostering the private sector, the private sector must now play its part and spur economic growth in the country”. Their plans include passing four bills that “when enacted, will play a major role in streamlining the business environment in South Sudan”, he concluded.

Challenge

There are many, some are weighty. The legacy of 22 years of internal strife has taken its toll. South Sudan has real skills development hurdles to overcome, they urgently need the educated and trained workers needed to run a new government. The estimated literacy rate is just 27 percent, one of the lowest in the world which means it’s going to be a long way to go.

The new complication was that Juba, the current seat of government and industry, was too small and the government intended to build a new city and move the capital to Ramciel, 250 km northwest of Juba. This created disquiet in business circles, especially with a Kenyan company installed in Juba.

At the beginning of its independence, this country was still struggling with security problems and rampant inflation.

Trade with Kenya and other neighboring countries

The lack of rail infrastructure hindered many growth initiatives as did problems accessing the route through Khartoum. This landlocked country has no access to ports although most of its imports go through Mombasa in Kenya. 80% of South Sudan’s trade is with East African countries, the leading country being Uganda (also landlocked) followed by Kenya.

However, talks are continuing with major oil companies to link a major fuel pipeline from Eldoret to Mombasa which will increase export opportunities to Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

The banking sector in South Sudan is quite vibrant, the government taking one state and the Family Bank of Kenya playing for another. The four major banks are potential acquisitions for more established financial houses in the East Africa region that could see $$ signs.

It is hoped that South Sudan will apply for membership of the East African Community (EAC) as early as next year.

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