South Sudan – The African Tears of Wealth

The minister of petroleum, on Wednesday the 7th of August 2019, confirmed that South Sudan had increased its Oil production by 6,000 Barrels, bringing the total oil output to over 180,000 barrels per day. This was achieved through the reopening of Block 1&2 in Manga oilfield, which was dormant for six years due to insecurity in the northern parts of the country. This development brings about more insights into some of the problems African states are facing with regards to Economic Development Regression as conflict limit growth in the various regions. Oil-rich South Sudan has been struggling to increase oil production, months after the signing of the revitalized peace accord in September 2018 which shows us that even if peace is now prevailing, it will take time to restore confidence after decades of unrest.

The name “Sudan” derives from Arabic, “bilad-as-sudan”, meaning “Land of the black people”. The country South Sudan was officially established on July 9, 2011, when it ceded from the country of Sudan after decades of conflict. South Sudan, the youngest country in the World is located in the central region of East Africa, where it covers a total area of 619 745 km2 with a population size of 13.3 million (UN 2019).

South Sudan is well known for its resources especially Oil, which was discovered in 1977. The Civil war in the country has prevented much exploration of oil deposits to the extent that up to now the potential oil reserves of the country is unclear. Currently about 90% of the government’s revenue comes from oil resources, while the rest is collected in the form of taxes.

The country had a GDP averaging $12.63 USD Billion from 2008 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of $17.83 USD Billion in 2011, hit a record low of $3.07 USD Billion in 2016.  A combination of internal conflict, weak global oil prices, closure of oil fields and poor rains resulted in economic activity contracting year on year in 2016/2017. Up to 95% of the population depends on self-sustainable agriculture to meet their food and income needs. Farm crops from low-input, low-output subsistence operations include sorghum, maize, millet and rice production. However, only 4% of South Sudan is currently under cultivation, its largest export being Sesame Seeds contributing at most 0.6% to total exports. Food security is a problem as close to 7 Million people are food insecure (USAID 2019), due to conflict and additionally, below-average rainfall delayed the start of the 2019 planting season limiting pasture regeneration, keeping livestock body conditions poor.

On the Neil economic scale, a can of coke cost 113.33 SSP (R13.38) and the price of a liter or petrol is 230 SSP (R27.19). South Sudan’s Vision 2040 encompasses medium- and long-term objectives that the country wants to achieve by the year 2040. The objective is to ensure that the country is a united and peaceful nation, building strong foundations for good governance, economic prosperity and enhanced quality of life for all.

As being one of the individuals whom physically was in Juba, South Sudan, at the birth of this new Republic and then seeing this newborn child of Africa, decent into war and strife, the true wealth of this nation, seems to be the exact reason there is no peace. A country that has oil, gas, gold and diamonds, with another piece of resource namely the Nile river, there can be no reason why the newborn nation, cannot be stable. It will take a world of reason and humanity to ensure that this nation does not remain shedding sad tears of civil war and thus the cliché being the African Tears of Wealth