Business: South Sudan
One thing I loved about Juba was the Veterans Security Sign at one of the main round abouts in Juba, South Sudan. Whatever you may think about private security, especially the armed type, it is as much a portent of positive activity as it is negative. Securing what? People with money pay for security. Who has the dosh in South Sudan? The Aid and Peacekeeping crowd to be sure. The Government as well. But also, and increasingly apparent is the business community.
The building boom in Juba is quite apparent – strikingly so in some ways. While there a month ago, old hands were keen to tell me of the new cold storage grocery store, the new hotel up the hill, or the bar at some joint set up in March. All good news for the every hungry and thirsty ex-pat. But what about the rest?
Well, there are banks popping up with seeming abandon. Roads are being put down for the first time in Juba’s history. Construction is all the rage. And the brand new Chinese motor bikes on the street corner show that some is dribbling down to the local lads about town.
Despite all of this the fact remains that the hinterland of South Sudan remains a nasty place for many. But there is confidence in Juba – fragile as it may be. But this is just Juba. There are another 8 million odd South Sudanese living in the states that make up South Sudan and most of them still live in conditions similar to that of their great great grandfathers in the 19th Century. Even if the South Sudanese get what appears to be their general wish, which is independence, its going to be a long long road before South Sudan becomes a modern nation state resting upon a sound and prosperous economy.
Perhaps it is time to think of what stability and thus prosperity actually rest upon. A sound economy. Is it time to consider a BuildingMarkets.org in South Sudan, or shall the international community wait until its too late to think about jobs for the boys – and I am not talking about armed security jobs. Nor am I talking about jobs for Alden Kurtz. But truth be told it might mean I get more employment. Although I don’t get the big bucks like some consultants do.