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Investment Conference Sparks Interest in South Sudan

  • Mugume Davis Rwakaringi

People pass by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining in Juba, November 7, 2012.

People pass by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining in Juba, November 7, 2012.

Around 50 companies registered with the government of South Sudan after last week's investment conference in Juba, taking what officials call a key first step toward doing business with the world's newest nation.

Other investors showed keen interest in doing business with South Sudan, including Elam Mohamed of the Pannell Kerr Forster international business advising firm.

“We can bring investors here with funds to invest and, certainly when I go back, I will submit a report. It will be a positive report in any case and I am sure that I can convince a lot of investors to come, especially in agribusiness, in energy, telecom sector and big projects in infrastructure,” he said.

South Sudan emphasized six priority areas of investment at the conference – agriculture, health, infrastructure, mining, petroleum and tourism.

Robert Moroz, managing director of U.S.-based financial advisers Prime Africa Group, said the company, which already does business in other African countries, is eager to tap into the South Sudanese market but has had trouble getting information about available opportunities.

“I can tell you that, with the priority sectors that have been outlined, I can see a lot of opportunities here and I encourage other investors to come in and take advantage of these opportunities because they are not going to last forever,” he said.

Deputy Finance Minister Mary Jervas Yak said officials listened to attendees and took on board how to improve the investment climate in South Sudan.

“One of the investors talked about the constraints that he faced and one of them was access to hard currency to be able to import raw materials," she said.

Yak says she plans to meet with Central Bank officials to discuss how to fix the problem.

She also said she fully expects the conference will pay off for South Sudan’s economy.

“We thought that people may be scared because they think that South Sudan is insecure and it may not be a conducive place for investing. But the turnout has shown that there is interest out there to invest in South Sudan,” she said.

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