News / Africa

    South Sudan Conflict Squeezes Regional Economy

    FIle - South Sudanese men inspect crates of soft drinks that were unloaded at the port in Juba, Southern Sudan.
    FIle - South Sudanese men inspect crates of soft drinks that were unloaded at the port in Juba, Southern Sudan.
    The conflict in South Sudan is sending ripples across the regional economy.  In Uganda, one of South Sudan's biggest trading partners, tens of thousands of merchants are feeling the loss of cross-border trade.

    In late December, Dan Ssesanga was herded into a Ugandan military truck and, with gunfire ringing in his ears, given safe passage out of South Sudan's capital, Juba.  But Ssesanga sells eggs, and his merchandise stayed behind.

    “I left behind 600 crates of eggs - that’s about $7,000," he lamented. "I don’t know what’s [going on] with it, because I have lost contact with the person who is managing the shop.”

    In any case, Ssesanga has lost thousands of dollars, and says he is not sure his business will ever recover.  He is not alone.

    “In all other commodities, as Uganda we’ve lost a lot," he added.  "There are many farmers who had gone into perishable goods with a major focus on the Juba market.  Right now they can’t sell all that.”

    While all eyes are focused on Juba and Jonglei, the conflict in South Sudan has been sending economic ripples across East Africa.  Exact figures do not exist, but Uganda alone had tens of thousands of traders working in the country, according to Patrick Ntege, head of the Uganda Traders  Association of South Sudan.

    “South Sudan is Uganda’s biggest trading partner, bigger than even the whole of the European Union," he noted. " So when trade is halted abruptly, it’s a blow to the economy of Uganda, it’s a blow to the business community, especially the small traders who are informal traders.  It’s a very big blow.”

    With so little industry in a country still recovering from decades of war, nearly everything was imported in South Sudan, explained Jim Mugunga of the Ugandan Ministry of Finance.  Kenyans were also doing business there, he said, but most basic goods came from Uganda.

    “What comes out of Uganda are basic commodities - things like water, things like hygiene products, soap, and others of that nature.  Uganda is a huge food basket for Southern Sudan, so you have things like sugar, salt, veggies, bananas, beans, maize,” he remarked.

    Mugunga said now, traders in these basic goods have no way to move their merchandise.

    Regional governments have been suffering as well, as the conflict has put plans for an oil pipeline from South Sudan to the Indian Ocean on hold.  

    Dickens Kamugisha of the African Institute for Energy Governance said this project would give Uganda a more cost-effective way to export its own oil and would be a major revenue producer for both Uganda and Kenya. 

    “Sudan exports around 200,000 barrels in a year, [and] you’d be talking about $100 million (U.S.) in terms of gains if it was passing here.  So in a period of one year, five years, 10 years, it would be a huge cost.  That money, we as Uganda would be losing it,” he said.

    Both Kamugisha and Ntege agree that economic considerations could well be behind Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s attempts to broker peace, and his swift decision to send troops to Juba.

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    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.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.