News / Africa

S. Sudan Oil Shutdown Chokes Economy

Sudanese workers inspect burnt out oil pipes at the oil-rich border town of Heglig, Sudan, April 24, 2012 (file photo).  Sudanese workers inspect burnt out oil pipes at the oil-rich border town of Heglig, Sudan, April 24, 2012 (file photo).
x
Sudanese workers inspect burnt out oil pipes at the oil-rich border town of Heglig, Sudan, April 24, 2012 (file photo).
Sudanese workers inspect burnt out oil pipes at the oil-rich border town of Heglig, Sudan, April 24, 2012 (file photo).
Gabe Joselow
NAIROBI — Brave or reckless, South Sudan's decision to shut down its oil production to protest the north has had disastrous consequences for its citizens.  The country's economy came to a jarring halt in January, when it shut down oil production due to a trade dispute with Sudan.



To make up for its own lost revenues from the split with South Sudan, Khartoum had been demanding exorbitant transit fees for the use of its pipelines and port, the only available route for South Sudan to export its oil.

Anne Itto, Deputy Secretary of South Sudan's ruling party, the SPLM, says the south has refused to resume production until Sudan agrees to more reasonable terms.

"Khartoum was asking $36 per drum, which is very unusual and is not practicable," said Itto.  "If south Sudan ever accepts to pay such rent, it is like giving away our oil, as well."

When the pumps came to a stop, South Sudan had lost the source of 98 percent of its annual revenue.

Already one of the poorest nations in the world, ranking at the bottom of every list of human development, the government has announced austerity measures to cope with the loss.

The Secretary-General of South Sudan's Chamber of Commerce Simon Akwei Deng, speaking at a debate sponsored by the BBC, says the shutdown has crippled the country's nascent private sector.

"It is not for the interests of the common citizens and the interests of the business people that these borders should be closed," said Deng.  "It should be open because this is our fundamental rights to trade between ourselves, respecting the idea of globalization of trade between countries."

The loss of foreign revenue pushed the annual inflation rate up to 80 percent in May. Meanwhile, the exchange rate for the South Sudanese pound has tripled against the dollar on the black market, greatly increasing the cost of living.

In the past, the southern republic has been buoyed by its international partners. The United States provided more than $400 million in bilateral assistance to South Sudan in 2011.

U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Princeton Lyman, said that the oil shutdown has threatened development and is forcing donors to reassess their priorities.

"There is a serious problem in maintaining the gains in education and health over the last six years and of maintaining basic services," said Lyman.  "All the donor countries now have to reconsider whether they can sustain development investments like feeder roads and things like that, but will have to shift to more emergency assistance such as food and basic medicines."

Lyman says nearly three million people in South Sudan are in need of food assistance, which is about 30 percent of the population.

The United Nations has voiced concern that the government's austerity measures will further hurt the poorest of the poor, by cutting services and leaving citizens with less money to spend on basic needs.

Humanitarian agencies have their hands full helping some 200,000 refugees that have fled to camps in the south to escape fighting in Sudan.

Chris Nikoi, the South Sudan Country Director for the World Food Program says the U.N. is appealing for over $1 billion in international humanitarian assistance this year, up from $663 million a year ago.

Billions of dollars of oil will remain trapped underground until South Sudan and Sudan can resolve the outstanding issues left over from their divorce.  But border disputes and security concerns have dominated the African Union-mediated talks so far and agreement is nowhere in sight.

The gridlock has made many young people fear for their future.

Jambukokwen Morris studies computer engineering and telecommunications at Juba University.  When he graduates, he says he hopes to start his own Internet technology business.  But like many of his generation in South Sudan's capital, Morris is no longer as optimistic about his country's future as he once was.

"After the independence, from the beginning, I used to wake up early in the morning, I could see new things happening, you feel that there is movement, actually, things are changing," said Morris.  "But now it's like things have come to [be] stagnant. Maybe it's because of the closing down of the oil, or what exactly, but I don't know.

Recent university graduate Hannah Nyongale says many of her peers have simply given up.

"I've seen [the] young men, they are just drinking. They are frustrated, but for women of course they will look for husbands who can take care of them," Nyongale noted.  "I don't want to exaggerate, but too many… are just hopeless cases. Too many applications I've dropped in so many places without success."

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid