JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN
— South Sudan has introduced a new passport that the government says is aimed at helping the new nation's businesspeople conduct business abroad.
William Akwock was one of the first to apply for a business passport when they were launched Tuesday.
Akwock, who travels to Dubai several times a year to buy sugar and flour to sell in South Sudan, hopes the new passport will make it easier for him to do business overseas.
"Our businesspeople used to be cheated," he said, adding that traders used to sell goods to him and others that were past their prime and should not have been sold.
‘’The passport is important because it will give protection to local businesspeople abroad," he said.
Nationality and Passport Director General Augustino Maduot Parek said complaints from businesspeople who said they were not being taken seriously or being sold inferior goods in the two years since South Sudan became the world's newest nation, were the key impetus for introducing the new passports.
But he cautioned that the new passports will only be issued to business people who work for companies registered in South Sudan, and noted that applicants among other requirements, have to provide bank statements, letters of recommendation, a nationality certificate -- also required for an ordinary passport -- be over 18, and have no criminal record for three years.
Interior Minister Alison Manani Magaya said officials will be closely monitoring the application process "because we don’t want the wrong people to possess this passport."
At 3,000 South Sudanese pounds a piece, or around $750, the new passports are believed to be the most expensive in the world
, which might cause many South Sudanese businesspeople to stop and think before they apply for theirs. By comparision, a regular South Sudanese passport costs about 60 South Sudanese pounds, or approximately $15.
Ajing Ayuel said he planned on submitting his application for one of the new passports in the coming days.
Ayuel buys clothes from Uganda and Kenya and resells them in South Sudan. He said the foreign traders he deals with constantly harass him and question whether he is able to pay for the goods he is trying to buy.
“This will help," he said of the new passport.
"Anywhere you are going, they will know which country you are coming from and that you are a businessperson.
"This is not something simple, but something big,” he said.