The conflict over Heglig oil fields by Sudan and South Sudan sends a negative signal to emerging Africa. The conflict appears to be fuelled by short term political interests in the greater Sudan region and long term strategic interests of global powers. While President Bashir fears that he may lose power in the North; Salva Kiir fears losing face in the south. External interest groups, on the other hand, simply want Sudan's oil.
The conflict in Sudan has the potential of destabilizing the entire region of the Horn of Africa. In January, Kenya signed a deal with South Sudan to build a pipeline to connect its oil fields to Lamu port. This is a project that both landlocked Uganda and Ethiopia have keen interest in. All these neighbors will take keen interest in what may appear on face value as a Sudanese problem.
The Sudanese and the entire Horn of Africa region stand to gain more if they invest in peace as opposed to war. With oil fields springing up all over the region, oil should be the last thing Africans should fight over. We urge sobriety and long term focus to enable the people of the two nations embark on the much needed nation building activities. Africa must follow developments in both Sudan and South Sudan with keen attention; for it could be a pointer to more destabilizing intrusions into the continent's quest to be united. Neighboring countries must evaluate their long term interests and opt to be peace brokers.
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