World Bank would speed up membership for Southern Sudan in event of independence


JUBA (NSV) — The World Bank has made known its committment to grant speedy membership to Southern Sudan in the event that the semi-autonomus region becomes independent next January, one senior official at the Bank has revealed.world_bank

The move will open several windows of financing for the newly independent country—options that are currently unavailable to the south as a region.

But the 2005 peace accord gives the people of Southern Sudan the right to vote on unity or separation of the Sudan.That vote is coming on January 9, 2011.

“If a country is newly independent, we do have precedence of how the country quickly qualifies to become a member of the World Bank or the IMF, and so we would follow the same process to grant an independent South Sudan its membership of the bank,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili,World Bank vice president for Africa, in an interview yesterday with the Bloomberg news in the southern capital of Juba.

 A former minister of education in Nigeria, Ezekwesili said Southern Sudan has continued to miss millions of  grants from IDA–Interrnational Development Associations, which is the division of the World Bank that gives low interest loans to poor countries.

Sudan has huge external debts that bar it from qualifying for those funds, so the South is already negotiating with the north on future repayment of $ 36 billion debt the entire country owes.

Analysts say the South can also benefit from focusing on private investments.

“It’s the leverage that it offers them that they miss particularly,” she said. “For the private sector to create the wave of growth, it must be that South Sudanese can attract international financing of all kinds.”

The World Bank, in its report on Southern Sudan prepared in June, acknowledged the chronic nature of  underdeveloment in the region, saying “Years of conflict has prevented investment in infrastructure and destroyed much of what existed, which has impeded the emergence of market linkages and a viable indigenous private sector.”

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