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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More