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

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'i
X
Scott Stearns
September 23, 2014 10:52 PM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video US, Gulf Allies Strike Islamic State Militants in Syria

United States forces have carried out strikes against Islamic State or ISIL militant positions in Syria - the first time Western forces have taken action on Syrian soil. Five U.S. allies from the Gulf joined the military action. Local reports suggest dozens of militants were killed. The U.S. also carried out unilateral missile strikes against a Syria-based terror group which Washington says poses an imminent threat to the West. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Used to Kill Cancer Tumor

There is a new way of killing certain cancer tumors that allows the patient to go home on the same day. Surgeons at the Keck Medical Center of the University of Southern California became the first doctors to use this procedure on a patient with the help of high intensity focused ultrasound, or HIFU, and new robotic technology. Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in Five Countries

Hollywood stars Alicia Keys, Jennifer Garner and 30 others have voiced their support for a U.S.-backed initiative called "Let Girls Learn." The $231 million program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is aimed at ensuring public and quality education for girls worldwide. As VOA's Mariama Diallo reports, this new program will focus on five countries in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Video

Video UN: Relocation of Bedouins in Israel Weakens Two-state Solution

Rural Bedouins living in disputed lands east of Jerusalem could soon find themselves forcibly relocated. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Jerusalem that while Israel defends the move as in the Bedouins’ best interests, the United Nations says the plan threatens the survival of the two-state solution with Palestinians.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Prolonged Drought Plagues SW Oklahoma Farmers

Parts of western Texas and southwestern Oklahoma have been in drought conditions for several years running and the deficit in rainfall has taken a heavy toll on cotton and grain production. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin says the state has suffered $2 billion in agricultural losses since 2011. There has been rain in recent weeks, but, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Altus, Oklahoma, for most farmers it has been too late.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid