Developing Southern Sudan's economic programs (Finale)

university_of_juba-juba"The development achieved by GOSS in the last five years by far exceeds anything positive Khartoum has done in the Southern Sudan in the last fifty-five years of independent Sudan," writes southern Sudan developmental economist, Prof. Yongo Bure, who makes a case for a strong government role in developing southern Sudan economy, in this last installment of a series (1,2,3).


(Flint, Michigan) - To achieve the goal of universal primary education, higher education will have to be greatly expanded to produce the necessary number of teachers and other human resources. While the expansion in primary and alternative education to over 1.6 million in the last four to five years is commendable, the gross number includes young adults. This is fine, but it also means that many children of school age are not yet able to attend school. Hence, primary education needs more expansion and improvement of quality in terms of teachers, buildings, school supplies, etc.


Secondary education needs a major boost. As of 2009, there were about 44,027 students attending secondary school (grades 9-12) in the whole of Southern Sudan. Yet it is from this number that the universities and training institutions will recruit in the next four years. Given the paucity of properly educated and trained human resources in Southern Sudan, this figure is very low. Hence, great efforts should be exerted in secondary school expansion. In any case such a policy should be inevitable given the recent substantial increase in primary school enrollment. In the 1960s, the International Development Association (IDA) expanded loans for the development of education in many newly independent countries. Southern Sudan should explore this avenue given that IDA’s loans are not expensive to service and repay (after about a generation with an interest rate of 0 to 2 percent).


The universities of Juba, Malakal, and Wau should be considerably expanded in both student-intake and the variety of courses dependent on the needs of the South. For the various developments envisaged and for the efficient running of both the public and private sectors, the South needs a basic stock of well-educated and trained people. Beginning at a low level of stock, a big push has to be made to fill the wide gap otherwise whatever development is initiated in the short-run will not become sustainable. The implementation, management, monitoring, and evaluation of all programs need well educated and trained human resources. While importation, especially from our neighbors, may fill in the gaps, in the long-run local human resources will be important for the sustenance of development. There must be a conscious and genuine effort to recruit and encourage the Southern Diasporas to return home to contribute.


As much as a number of foreign banks have moved into Southern Sudan, the South needs to establish its own banks, which in the long-run will dominate its banking industry. Considerable efforts must be made to develop such a vital sector. It will take time before the habit of banking becomes widespread. Therefore, it must be consciously developed. The persistent problems that the Nile Commercial Bank has been experiencing must be seriously addressed. Each state should establish its own bank (s) with the capital contributed by the state and county governments. The citizens of each state should also buy shares in their state bank (s). This will reduce future complaints about the functioning of the national banking system. At least an insurance and re-insurance company/corporation must be set up. States may also establish their own insurance companies, again with shares from the counties and citizens of the state. The Government of Southern Sudan, the Bank of Southern Sudan, and the Southern universities should devise plans to educate and train human resources for the establishment of the nucleus of a financial system.


Manufacturing should selectively focus on those activities relevant to rehabilitation and construction, using as much local material as possible. The building materials industry is among the priority sectors. There is need for carpentry at the local level for the manufacture of furniture. Repair and manufacture of farm implements will enhance the growth of the agricultural sector. Manufacture of packaging material will gain in prominence as agricultural production and exports increase. Other products that can easily be produced in the early stages of manufacturing and are essential include hosiery, aluminum utensils, cardboard boxes, sanitary fittings, toothpaste, and many others.


Small-scale and handicraft industries can make a significant contribution in generating employment, supplying inputs, and consumer goods. Tailoring, grinding mills, brick-laying, repair works, soap-making, sheet metal fabricating, paint and varnishes, and wire are among these industries. The wire products industry will produce minor but essential products such as nails and screws.


With increasing population, urbanization, and development, there will be increased need for housing, industrial, and other productive units such as warehouses, livestock and breeding farms, etc. In addition to the forward linkages, the manufacture of building materials has also strong backward linkages to the brick, cement, and wood industries. Hence, its impact on production, employment, and income would be substantial. Moreover, its products will increase the longevity of capital goods in the South, particularly in the housing sector, currently largely relying on grass and wood. The wood processing industry will include products such as doors, windows, office furniture, etc. as well as the manufacture of matches.


Textile and leather industries have strong linkages to the Southern economy as the raw material either already abounds (animals) or can be annually produced (cotton). With rapid urbanization, manufacture of sanitary products and fittings will be urgent. To expand education at as low cost as possible, many educational supplies will have to be manufactured in the South. Hence, there is need for developing the pulp and paper industry from the abundant local papyrus as well as from agricultural (e.g., sugar cane and sorghum stalks) and wood by-products.


The manufacturing of various spare parts for vehicles and industry will improve the overall performance of the economy, as high capacity utilization will be made possible. Given the low level of entrepreneurship in the modern manufacturing sector, government policy will have to play an important role in the acquisition of skills and the development of local entrepreneurship.


Medium to long-term programs


While most of the actions, projects, and programs discussed above are mainly short to medium-term, GOSS also needs to initiate plans for the long-run direction of the new country. Where does GOSS want to see the new country ten to twenty years from now? This calls for projects which will have transformative impact on the country. This is where the major projects in industrialization, energy and power, irrigation, mining, and training of various specialists fall into. GOSS should give an indication of its plans for the development of the Fulla and Bedden Hydroelectric Projects as well as the development of transmission lines to the eastern, northern, and western parts of Southern Sudan, given that the hydroelectric potential of Southern Sudan is concentrated south of Juba. Extraction of alluvial gold, from Kapoeta and southern Bari, was said to be important during the war. Can these goldfields be exploited on large scale and help reduce the South’s overdependence on oil export earnings and revenue? What other Southern mineral deposits are commercially viable? What are the country’s long-term plans for building a diversified self-sustaining economy and its relationship to the neighboring countries’ economies? What are the plans for an integrated transportation network in the next ten to fifteen years (major roads and railways, etc)? These are among the issues that will give people some ideas about their future and get engaged in productive dialogue with optimism.


Concluding remarks


Not all the projects and programs outlined above are to be undertaken by GOSS, but GOSS is to play the leading role in organizing and coordinating all the actors: public and private sectors, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral donors. However, it must be clearly understood that the private sector rarely get involved in undertaking infrastructural projects. Yet these are very much needed in Southern Sudan at this stage of its development. The largest private sector in Southern Sudan at this stage of development is the peasant sector. Tapping this potential through appropriate policies will impact considerably on Southern Sudan’s long-term development.


The development challenges are great, given Southern Sudan’s history since 1956. These challenges can only begin to be addressed when Southern Sudan is a separate country from Northern Sudan. The prevalence of abject poverty in Southern Sudan is largely because of Khartoum’s deliberate policy of marginalizing the territory. If Southern Sudan reverts back to Khartoum’s control, these pathetic conditions will never be addressed. Khartoum believes that its policies of islamizing and arabizing Southern Sudan cannot be implemented in a prosperous Southern Sudan. For Khartoum, abject poverty, instability, and violence in Southern Sudan serve its twin policies as such state of affairs will render Southerners vulnerable to Khartoum’s manipulation.


The development achieved by GOSS in the last five years by far exceeds anything positive Khartoum has done in the Southern Sudan in the last fifty-five years of independent Sudan.  Hence, a separate nationhood becomes a pre-requisite for the development of Southern Sudan. As development and hope increase and abject poverty considerably declines, instability, insecurity, and violence will be considerably reduced in Southern Sudan.


*Dr. Yongo-Bure is associate professor of Social Science at Kettering University, USA. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..