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

    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

    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