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South Sudan: “Juba-lant” as dreams turn into reality

Manka Angwafo's picture

 Photo: A line of “boda bodas” queuing for fuel along the main road in Juba town

For the past three weeks I have been working in Juba, South Sudan. In a meeting with the government last week, an official said to me, “…we are dreaming, but come July 9th everything will change and our dreams will become reality.”

On July 9th South Sudan will become an independent country, following the longest civil war in African history.

Driving through Juba, one cannot fail to notice the preparations taking place; from the exceptionally clean streets and banners spread across public buildings to the soon-to-be national anthem on repeat on the radio. There is a sense of excitement, longing and hope.

However, tension surrounding the conflict in South Kordofan casts a cloud on celebrations and underscores the risks ahead.  

In June, Khartoum cut off fuel supplies to South Sudan, forcing the government to import fuel from Kenya and Uganda. As a result, a black market for fuel has developed and the cost of fuel at the pump more than doubled between May and June, reaching about 5 Sudanese pounds ($1.67 USD) per liter in Juba and even higher in some rural areas.

Additionally, the flow of goods and services along the north and south borders has been suspended, and complications from northern civil servants manning the southern border with Uganda and Kenya have further increased the general cost of living in the South.

Unfortunately, fuel shortage is not the only challenge the government of South Sudan would have to address post independence.  An estimated 98% of public revenue comes from oil and over 50% of the population lives below the poverty line of 72.9 Sudanese pounds ($24.3 USD) per month (see Gabriel’s post). Moreover, decades of civil war have constrained human resource development, further weakening institutional capacity and service delivery.

As the donor presence expands in Juba ahead of independence, increased coordination among development partners is of particular importance as it will streamline assistance and enhance government decision making, helping to transform the fragile territory into a stable nation state.

At the same meeting with the government I mentioned above, another government official emphasized this point: “We have so many challenges. When our partners work together, it makes their assistance more effective.”


Submitted by gouaf on
Good post! Let's hope tensions with the northern motherland don't escalate into another situation like Eritrea v. Ethiopia. Just curious, would it be that hard to apply the principles that were followed here to the Israeli-Palestinian standoff? Seems to me, if the Sudanese can prove that two formerly warring nations can live side by side -- then I'd say forget the UN and all the rest: Send Bashir and Kiir to Gaza.

Submitted by Woubet on
It is understood that many factors play out in the process of building up this new country. However it is my strongest conviction that the success and failure of Southern Sudan rests on the Sudanese people. The people should partake in the affairs of state in a fair manner. Elections should be fair and democratic, from the community up to the national level. This doesn’t mean that a Sudanese leadership segment the society along ethnic, religious and any other criteria and meddle among them. This is going to be a complete failure as exhibited in many African countries including Ethiopia. The state must make sure that the people of Sudan are heard and represented. This sense of active engagement is empowering and awakening for society. Few could argue that in an underdeveloped society, the elite should make the big decisions since the society is ‘backward’. People KNOW, the people of Sudan know the answers to their puzzles. Even if they fail this time, they would know how not to fail again…Their voices must be heard.

Submitted by James Bill Ochamgiu on
I know of what is going on in Abyei region but African must learn to live in peace and must regard themselves as one people all over the continent. Love is most important thing. Religion should not separate us the UN declaration is very clear on freedom of worship, respect to human right ,freedom of movement-----. South Sudan our new baby im prod of you but be ready to defend your selves the international community should always find you doing some to safe guard yourselvers. I know that UN must be looking at the boarder issues and might ensure that its better defined so that no more tension. US is my pride they raise a proposal to the UN ready to protect African citizens. This is good, that is why God should bless Americans.Al-Bashir aiming to fight for the region holds no water. I believe that Richard Nixion policy first then others may follow. I'm with you as you get your independence may God bless Africa, friends of Africa and its citizens

It is a new dawn for South Sudan. I congratulate the new nation wishing her the very best. I urge leaders of the new country to embrace the tenents of democracy and sustainable development. They should select a model group like the BRICs to serve as development template to avoid a disastrous future.

Submitted by Jared Osoro on
I like your post, only to the extent that you highlight problems and challenges of the soon-to-be country. Now that the legalities of "country" have been sorted out, the international comminity's support will be critical in ensuring that there are strong public institutions to suppport the thriving of the private sector. major investments will obviosly be neened in the provision of public goods. A clear policy environment will be another imperative. This will help guide the private sector players - both from the Eastern Africa region and from elsewhere - who are keen in venturing into the new country. Those alreday in are either trading or training their eyes on the vast natrural resources of the economy. Then good systems will have to be put in place to giude the policies. There three aspects will obviosly have to overlap. Good luck to the people of Southern Sudan.

Submitted by Amar on
South Sudan will become a new country in less than 24 hours. This modern baby state will be distinct from its earlier siblings in that its birth and its toddler years will be followed carefully by a much larger audience than ever before. The world today is very different place compared to half a century ago when most of the colonized regions in Africa gained statehood. It is increasingly visible, if not transparent. Technology, information, expertise, and knowledge are far more freely available and accessible. It is a much more balanced world, with higher opportunity costs associated with arm-twisting or blatant covert action by one nation in pursuit of its interests at the detriment of others. But, even if these conditions are favorable, the direction in which South Sudan will move will finally depend on South Sudan’s leaders and citizens. The leaders will soon appreciate that gaining independence, although more glorious, is a completely different ballgame compared to engendering a modern and progressive nation. My humble two-point advice to the leaders is:- 1. Nation-building before state-building: The euphoria of independence, while it lasts, must be harnessed effectively to translate into a firm national identity above and beyond tribal and community identities. They will have to give their people a powerful idea - an idea of what South Sudan is. This has been done successfully by nations, notably India. Although strengthening the state and its capacity has to go hand in hand with nation-building, in instances where these two goals collide, nation-building must prevail. 2. Institutions before economic growth: Although economic growth is extremely important, socially fair political, legal and economic institutions must be built before economic growth, just as a family must first be a family first before graduating on to be a happy one. Ethical conduct and reciprocal duties and responsibilities of the state and its citizens, respectively, must be de-jure enshrined in the constitution and other legal statutes, as well as de-facto imbibed in primary school curriculums, religious institutions and within families. Until ethical and desirable goals are internalized by the population, even the best designed social, legal and economic systems are doomed to fail. In sum, more than anything else South Sudan needs statesmen not politicians, who have the foresight to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong. Will Sudan’s leaders live up to history’s challenge? My view is that we might be pleasantly surprised notwithstanding the low levels of formal education and exposure among the leaders and the populace. A word of caution for the global community; just as we nurture young children, if we want them to turn out into confident and responsible adults, so should we, not only forgive early errors but also be careful not to burden South Sudan with unduly lofty expectations.

Submitted by Luwam Dirar on
I am so happy for Southern Sudanese. Congratulations!!! I pray that you will have peaceful transition and that your borders will be demarcated through negotiation of all concerned parties and not through war. As a person who have experienced the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict first hand my advice is start negotiating and demarcation of your borders now. Avoid going to war if and when possible. With regard to your development policies I believe that you should embrace Amartya Sen's definition of development as freedom. Ensure public participation in all aspects of governance and provide freedom for all the citizenry to achieve their fullest capabilities. I think with adequate public participation South Sudan will have better chances of fast recovery, reconstruction and development.

I congratulate south sudan for actualizing this long standing dream.But much of there effort should be geared towards boosting agricultural base of the nation because no farmer no future.

The government for southern Sudan have to take it is responsibility in alleviating poverty as it attack a significant of southern population.This will be achieve by providing and /or contributing in social services spending such as health, education, water and electricity. Because social services expenditure are not only the responsibility of the households but are also of the government.Then the poverty will remarkable decrease if the honest is find.

I have zero experience of international development but have been somewhat engaged with challenges of providing financial services and healthcare in remote rural parts of India. It is my belief that the only way to get robust and high quality services is to start with them. If one starts with lower quality ideas with the assumption that these are transition arrangements one becomes a prisioner of these arrangements and it becomes impossible to move beyond them. It is my belief and experience that with the help of newer approaches towards managing both human resources and technology it is possible to offer very high quality services which are also lower cost. These newer approaches have the potential, over time, to grow into a very high quality national system for financial services and healthcare while in the near term serving the most disadvantaged populations.

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