News / Africa

    After Independence, South Sudan Faces Serious Challenges Ahead

    Refugees wait for food aid to be distributed near the volatile border with the north, in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan, November 16, 2011.
    Refugees wait for food aid to be distributed near the volatile border with the north, in Yida refugee camp in South Sudan, November 16, 2011.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Gabe Joselow

    As the euphoria from a hard-won independence subsides, South Sudan now must turn to face enormous development challenges. Meanwhile, the threat of a return to war and outstanding political and economic tensions with the north remain the darkest clouds hovering over the world's newest nation.

    When South Sudan declared its independence on July 9 of this year, it entered into sovereignty as one of the world's poorest nations lacking basic infrastructure, industry and health care.

    One startling statistic that was frequently quoted by the United Nations and the international media around the time of independence is that a 15-year-old girl in South Sudan has a higher chance of dying in childbirth than of completing school.

    South Sudan's first president, Salva Kiir, presented this sobering reminder of the challenges for the country during his inauguration address.

    President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit (file photo)
    President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit (file photo)

    "All the indexes of human welfare put us at the bottom of all humanity," said Kiir.  "All citizens of this nation must, therefore, fully dedicate their energies and resources to the construction of a vibrant economy."

    To pull itself out of poverty, the country is calling for greater investment from its international partners.

    Kiir recently attended a conference in Washington encouraging businesses and governments to invest in South Sudan.  He said in particular, the country could use more investment in technology, banking and agriculture.

    As of now, 98 percent of South Sudan's revenues are derived from oil exports.  And the country, at its creation, inherited three-quarters of the known oil reserves in the former united Sudan.

    Drilling tubing is piled next to the drilling site number 102 in the Unity oil field in South Sudan (2010 file photo).
    Drilling tubing is piled next to the drilling site number 102 in the Unity oil field in South Sudan (2010 file photo).

    Speaking at the investment conference, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned the country's oil wealth is either a blessing or a curse.

    "We know that it will either help your country finance its own path out of poverty, or you will fall prey to the natural resource curse, which will enrich a small elite, outside interests, corporations and countries and leave your people hardly better off than when you started," said Clinton.

    While South Sudan may control oil production, all of the refineries and export capacity are still controlled by Sudan in the north.

    The two nations are now in negotiations about the cost of a transit fee that South Sudan will pay to the north for the use of two cross-border pipelines.

    Jennifer Christian of the Enough Project says while a transit fee is common practice, the north may be trying to exploit the south.

    "The government of Sudan very much would like to see a transit fee imposed on South Sudan and has requested some very, very high numbers, as high as $32 a barrel which is, if you look at quote on quote industry standards throughout the world, this is a very high fee," said Christian.

    The oil dispute spills into other conflicts remaining between the newly divorced countries, including the status of the oil-rich Abyei region.

    The northern army overran the region in May of this year, displacing the entire population.

    Fighting has also continued between northern and southern forces in other areas including the Nuba mountains and Blue Nile states.  The north as also been accused this year of bombing refugee camps in the south.

    Underscoring the threat of a return to war, the chief of staff of the Southern People's Liberation Army (SPLA), General James Hoth Mai, recently told graduates from a military officer's college in Lakes State that the country is still in a "confrontation stage" with its northern neighbor.  He said the young officers should be prepared if "worst comes to worst."

    But one of the more hopeful developments this year for South Sudan has been the re-engagement of its massive diaspora community.  Many of the young South Sudanese who fled war and found education in other parts of the world, say they want to be involved in building their country.

    Lual Dau is the chairperson of the South Sudanese Students Association of Kenya.

    "Actually we don't encourage people to wait because the more you wait the more there is nobody to do it," said Dau.  "As there is nothing at home I always encourage people, what do you feel as an individual that you will contribute to that empty land. Take your chair that you're going to sit on, it will be a development. Go and build your tukul [hut] that you'll be sleeping in, that will be a development. So that is why we encourage everybody to come back home. There is no development without people."

    It was a historic year for South Sudan.  Independence brought pledges of goodwill and good intentions from across the international community.  But now that the celebrations have started to die down, we may finally be able to see if the country can stand on its own feet.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora