South Sudan, officially known as the Republic of South Sudan is the most recent sovereign state having gained its independence in 2011. It is the 193rd country to join the United Nations and the 54th country to join the African Union. It gained its independence from Sudan, by a referendum where 98.83% of the population voted for secession.

The birth of a new nation leads to various changes in the political and economic dynamics of the globe as well as changes within the domestic territory as well. A new economy adds to the list of various trades that go around in the world, gives an avenue for resources to be sourced and also lets other nations expand their foreign relations. This article is an overview of how these changes come around and what consequences does the addition of a new country has in the world market.

WHAT THE ECONOMY LOOKED LIKE IN THE EARLY 2010s?: The South Sudanese economy is primarily based on natural resources such as oil and agriculture. It is one of the poorest countries with little to no infrastructure. The economy of South Sudan is the least developed in the world. It has the highest maternal mortality rate and the female illiteracy rate in the world as of 2011. As of 2004, there were only 3 surgeons serving in the entire region and only 3 hospitals were properly operating. It has the highest number of cases of malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa and has numerous cases of HIV yearly. The water situation in the country is also not so well. Although the White Nile runs through the territory, the areas which do not have any form of naturally occurring water remain dry throughout the year. As of 2014, there were 2.3 million refugees living in South Sudan, which indicated that 1 in every 5 people living there was a refugee. 1.6 million of them are internally displaced persons who had been forced to flee their homes.

OIL: Prior to independence, the southern region of Sudan contained 85% of the country’s total oil reserves. However, the infrastructure to extract and transport the oil such as pipelines, refineries, and port facilities were all bring controlled from the northern region. Post-independence the conflicts between these two countries were resolved by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which stated that the north would receive a 50% share of all revenue from oil.

After independence, South Sudan also welcomed many foreign oil drillers which have led to an increase in their geopolitical scenario. Over the years oil companies like the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) composed of China National Petroleum Corporation, Petronas (Malaysia), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (India) and Sudapet of the central Sudan government have established control over 3 blocks of oil reserves in the territory.

South Sudan is on the “state sponsors of terrorism” list of the US, and Sudan has been pressuring the country to share profits from any new investments, therefore no US companies hold any share in the oil reserves of South Sudan.

AGRICULTURE: The country has abundant lands and is one of the most pastoralist countries in the world, but after the discovery of oil in the late 1990s the agricultural sector has been seeing a decline. According to a World Bank report, the annual growth between 2000 and 2008 was only 3.8% in comparison to 10.8% from the previous decade. After independence, the UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO) carried out an extensive satellite land cover survey that showed just 4.5% of the available land was under cultivation.

Due to a lack of domestic cultivation, it had to import food from neighboring countries like Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan. The imports came with a high cost of transportation which led to inflation in the prices shortly after independence. The UN food program predicted that around 2.7 million people would need food aid in the year 2012. A study by the World Bank reported that the value (realized agricultural potential) of total agricultural production in South Sudan was estimated at US $808 million in 2009.

Many committees by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN have been set up to look into the matters of food insecurity in South Sudan. According to recent reports, a little less than 60% of the total population have access to two let alone three meals a day. The country certainly has a long way to go before it can export agricultural produce and also secure its food supplies.

INFRASTRUCTURE: Before gaining independence, the country was suffering from various humanitarian and political problems, which excused it from focusing on the development of its infrastructure. As of 2011, many villages had no electricity or water supply, there were very few public hospitals and schools and hardly any concrete roads.

In 2012, The World Bank approved a four-year, US $38 million investment loan to South Sudan’s Ministry of Roads and Bridges to build rural and inter-urban roads and highways. The nation has some telecommunications service through operators like MTN Group (formerly known as Investcom) but currently lacks the infrastructure to offer high-speed Internet connections. In March 2015, South Sudan’s minister for telecommunications and postal services revealed plans for the government to lay 1,600 kilometers of fiber-optic cable across the country within two years. The government plans to connect this network with undersea cables via existing infrastructure in Uganda and Tanzania.

CONCLUSION: Even after gaining independence the country has been coping with a civil war that broke out in 2013. Millions of people have been forced to leave their homes and are either refugees or internally displaced persons. The country is on the tracks of development but conflicts for power between the President and the Vice President have been a major barrier on this road. Food security and deliverance of healthy meals to all is an urgent matter that the state needs to deal with. It is one of the countries where there are a large number of children facing malnourishment. Besides basing its economy on oil, the country also needs to focus on the development of other sectors like the industries and the manufacturing sector. The journey to a sustainable economy and profitable GDP is a long one, but striving through the civil conflicts, South Sudan will need to try harder to get back up on its feet.

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