Work Begins for South Sudan

By Will Connors and Maggie Fick

Officials of the Republic of South Sudan basked Sunday in the glow of a one-day old nation. By Monday, they will begin work on building an economy that now depends on oil for 98% of its revenue.

South Sudan officials say they will focus on weaning the economy away from oil by investing in the country’s agricultural sector, which is among the most fertile in the region. But the world’s newest country, hived off Saturday from Sudan, Africa’s largest nation, still lacks basic health, education and roads, not to mention hotels, a decent airstrip and other essentials to accommodate investors.

Given those challenges, celebrations aren’t expected to last long. South Sudan is already a major recipient of aid as it seeks to create the conditions for domestic and foreign industry to flourish. The U.S., for example, has spent $300 million on development assistance to South Sudan as it has sought to create a new government. The European Union recently approved a similar amount of aid to the country.

“There really isn’t a private sector that’s sufficiently broad” to absorb the unemployed, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said on Sunday. “There is a great deal to be done,” she added.

Still, South Sudan has lots of oil. Nearly all of the 500,000 barrels of oil produced a day between north and south comes from the south. But the south splits the oil revenue with the Khartoum-based northern government, which owns the pipelines, refineries and ports from which the oil is exported. Since a 2005 peace accord with the north, the south has depended on oil revenue to pay salaries and keep its interim government running. Read more…

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on South Sudan’s independence. Read it here

As published in www.washingtonpost.com on July 11, 2011.


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