South Sudan: Ripe for Investment

Published on 15th December 2011

A bridge under construction in S. Sudan                   Photo courtesy
I wish to highlight the milestones in South Sudan’s long walk to freedom.   I want to tell you something of my country and my country’s history.  I believe that it is extremely important that we know where we have come from, in order to understand the challenges we face today and where we are going.   It is from this point that we must acknowledge, we are building on our history, and are only at the beginning of the long, winding and challenging road of development. 

The Republic of South Sudan was born out of the ruins of war, getting its freedom from the fires of persecution.  You will all recall that war first broke out in the Sudan just before its independence in 1956.  Since then till the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, in which the international community, including the Troika played a great role, the people of South Sudan knew nothing other than war. They fought to free themselves from repression, exploitation and discrimination although we still have people under slavery. Now that we are a free people allow me to invite you all to work with us, as part of our community to build a stronger, united and secured South Sudan. 

During this period of war we did not benefit from investment in education, health or infrastructure in the same way our neighbour in the north did.  It is therefore our dream that we establish a prosperous nation; productive, tolerant, democratic, secure and peaceful. I do know that we are emerging as a Country at a time when the world is becoming a global village, characterised by a phenomenal rate of development enhanced by cooperation and fanned by stiff competition among nations.  This requires that we adapt and respond to challenges of being part of the global society.  Therefore we must be guided by a clearly articulated vision, which takes, into account the need for infrastructure that provides the necessary access and an environment where investment can flourish, investors would not be afraid and the people of South Sudan developed.

With fifty years of struggle for self-determination and national identity and with the attainment of independence, the people of South Sudan have defined the type of nation they would like be. It is their dream and my dream and vision too.  This vision guides the strategic thinking and our policy making process.  It takes into account our long walk to freedom and the anticipated challenges of being part of a global village.  Our vision is guided by the principles and values of Democracy and Political Pluralism.  

Values of participatory democracy where inclusiveness to address issues of our ethnic diversity, devolution of power through decentralization and, self-governance are clearly spelled out. This is our vision 2040.  Supremacy of the rule of law and separation of powers, respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedoms, justice and equality, accountability and transparency are central to this Vision.  We can have a well written and thought out dreams, but if we do not practically improve our Governance systems,  this dream is as good as not being there.  We are strengthening the institutions of government based on the principles of good governance, accountability and transparency.  We know that good governance is not something that we can achieve overnight, but though it takes time we have to start.  It requires that we build government institutions, while delivering services, and focus on improving processes as part of fighting corruption.   We therefore call for your patience and ask that you walk with us on this path as we strengthen our governance.  

Good Governance is a priority of my Government in order for us to achieve the development that the people of South Sudan longed and fought for. We have now passed the Financial Management and Accountability act. These laws will strengthen the process of accountability and ensure transparency in the management of our resources. Furthermore, I have issued a decree that all senior government officials should declare their resources by the end of January 2012; in absence of which they will be investigated. We are also considering obtaining membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

As part of strengthening governance we shall also ensure that the environment is safe and secure for development and investment to take place.  We are engaged in disarmament to remove weapons from the hands of those unauthorised and carrying out community peace and reconciliation meetings among the various conflicting ethnic groups, in particular those in Lakes, Unity, Jonglei and Warrap States.  As this important project is being implemented, our neighbour the Republic of Sudan has been violating our air space bombing villages including refugee camps.  Most recently, they attacked and occupied Jau, a village in Unity State in the sovereign territory of South Sudan. 

We have reported this to the United Nations and it is our hope that the UN will help us find a lasting solution to this aggression from Sudan. It is our strong desire that the International Community seeks means and ways of making appropriate interventions so that potential flashpoints for renewed armed conflict between the Republic of Sudan and us are extinguished. 

The final political status of Abyei should and must be resolved on the basis of the free will of the people of Abyei, in keeping with the spirit of CPA.  It cannot be resolved by military force as Khartoum had attempted last May.  Ownership of the disputed border areas must be determined on the basis of the 1.1.1956 borderline as agreed to by the parties under the CPA and not through the logic of force.

Infrastructure is at the heart of our development plan.Together with our development partners, we will invest in roads and bridges, and in river transport.  Without roads our desire for prosperity will be difficult to achieve, as we shall remain unconnected in various parts of our vast country. In building the necessary infrastructure the Government will take the lead, supporting the provision of these important public goods. 

The Government will inevitably play a crucial role in driving growth for some time in South Sudan. At this juncture the Development Plan focuses on using government expenditure to lay the foundation for generating and increasing private sector activity, focusing on Dr John Garang’s vision of “taking towns to the people.”

We also aim to use new information technologies to “leapfrog” into the 21st century. To this effect I would like to encourage all who are on the forefront of developing and utilizing new information technologies to come to South Sudan and assist us in becoming an “Information and communications technology” hub in the region.  We have witnessed with great enthusiasm the impact ICT has had in a country like Rwanda. We want to encourage the private sector that you are indeed “welcome “to come and assist us in developing this sector. 

Another major sector, which contributes towards our economy and indeed our development, is the Oil, Gas and Minerals sector.  South Sudan produces oil.  The oil in our country was first discovered by Chevron, an American oil company.  But thereafter because of war and later the sanctions, American companies could no longer be engaged in the development of the oil or any other business. I thank the American government for exempting South Sudan from these Sanctions. The U.S. government has modified its licensing policy to allow U.S. investment in South Sudan oil sector. 

In the short term we are seeking the support of other countries, especially our regional neighbours, to build and strengthen our civil service, to ensure that the Government, both the National and the States have the capacity to deliver the services that the population requires. I look forward to the day when I will no longer have to discuss conflict prevention, peace and security.  Unfortunately, that day is not yet here, however, it is coming.  

When it comes, we aspire to be a nation that is educated and informed; prosperous, productive and innovative; compassionate and tolerant; free, just and peaceful; democratic and accountable; safe, secure and healthy; united and proud.  A nation, which can be, viewed as an “island of stability”, one that contributes to regional and global peace and stability. 

South Sudan recently committed itself to implementing the “New Deal” for development effectiveness. The “New Deal” on international engagement in fragile states, focuses on international assistance as a support to the processes of peace and state building. This means strengthening the institutional capacity of government, delivering jobs for our people and providing access to justice for all.   We need a new partnership between our countries and our partners across the diplomatic, security and development communities. As part of this “New Deal” South Sudan will continue to be an active participant of the g7+ grouping of fragile and post-conflict affected States.  We will work together with all of you, and our peers to ensure that the development assistance provided, builds our capacity as a government, rather than undermining it. 

To conclude, let me restate my points: First, we have come from fifty years of conflict, marginalisation and war.  Our history has created countless roadblocks and challenges that we must overcome.  Second, in building on our past, we have a road map for the development of our country, based upon an inclusive national vision anchored on Democracy and good governance. Finally, we recognise that we must deal with our security challenges. We are working on resolving these issues, but it will take time.  None of these problems is intractable, but they must be dealt with methodically and carefully to ensure a lasting peace. I would like to take this opportunity to invite potential investors, who are willing to take on these challenges together with us to come to South Sudan. 

By Salva Kiir,
President, Republic of South Sudan.

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