The Scramble for South Sudan.
There is much afoot in South Sudan, much afoot. Just 4 months ago it became the world’s newest country. But it also became one of the world’s poorest, most violent, and troubled countries. I was told today how the British left the country in 1956 leaving nothing behind, and then after a long period of neglect, war descended upon the people and millions were killed. The human development clock was pushed backwards a very, very long way. But in every challenge there is opportunity, and the beaming smiles of “independent” South Sudanese, who fully recognise their problems, are very much imbued with the sense of “opportunity”.
A long time ago my much more intrepid ancestors, who were also far more voraciously self serving than I, were part of the “Scramble for Africa“, in an effort to get colonies for their bosses, patrons and monarchs in Europe. They got bitten by many things, snakes, crocs and lions. I just got a bad case of bed bug bites.
However, what I also got just in the first 48 hours of my third visit was a sense of promise. It will take decades to realise, but its there clear as a bell.
South Sudan is messed up. Decades of civil war, some of the lowest development indicators on the planet, if not the lowest. There is even talk of a serious renewed conflict with Khartoum. But the most recent business advertiser weekly, which did not exist a year or so ago, tells us an emerging, and different story.
This is all very cool. But spreading the wealth around is also good. Its called equity, and everyone wants and needs equity. Perhaps its time to start thinking of making sure that South Sudanese business gets in the game, now that independence is fact. While South Sudan has a flag, does it have a private sector upon which the country can safely rest?
Perhaps its now time to start thinking of a policy that promotes South Sudanese business?
I will be blogging more on roads, agribusiness and other matters central to the future of South Sudan’s economy in the comings days.
In the meantime lets think of ways that the “Scramble for South Sudan” can include, rather than exclude, the South Sudanese.