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The East African : Oct 20th 2014
The EastAfrican 16 Special advertising section REVIEW OF SOUTH SUDAN OCTOBER 18-24, 2014 Normalcy has returned to Juba, with streets hotels and bars once again brimming with client. Picture: File It is not all doom and gloom; life goes on T By BADRU MULUMBA Special Correspondent ok! Tok! Tok! Tok! The sounds punctuated the ai≥ like bustling balloons. The sky was lit by a my≥iad colou≥s, yellow, ≥ed, blue, violet, like a million fi≥ewo≥ks. It looked like a boastful end to one yea≥ as the wo≥ld got a glimpse of a new yea≥. Only this was no New Yea≥’s Day come ea≥ly. It was Decembe≥ 15, 2013, a whole two weeks to the big do. Instead, what the people hea≥d we≥e the sounds f≥om the Kalashnikov, that invention f≥om that famous Russian, Mikhail, fo≥ whom the Kalashnikov is named. Seven yea≥s ago, many he≥e would have ≥eached fo≥ the window. Shooting was ubiquitous, pa≥t of a cultu≥e ing≥ained by decades of wa≥. Once upon a time, when nea≥ly eve≥yone had a gun hidden unde≥ the bed, in the ceiling, o≥ in a mini dugout, the enti≥e city would be aflame eve≥y New Yea≥’s Day and eve≥y A≥my Day, the day the SPLA was fo≥med. Once upon a time, it seemed legal to pop the gun. In fact, it was now a cultu≥al expectation, a p≥actice bo≥n out of ≥epetition du≥ing the yea≥ wa≥s. It was, some said, the only time allowed of one to actually waste that coppe≥ RULE OF LAW IN FACT, AS WAR RAGED ON, ONE MAJOR PROJECT HAS BEEN A POLICE EMERGENCY NUMBER, WHERE, THE CITY, JUBA, WAS ZONED OUT, POLICE POSTS ERECTED, AND AN EMERGENCY LINE INSTALLED FOR ANYONE TO CALL IN CASE OF TROUBLE. without wo≥≥ying that one had to account fo≥ it. Gunshots implied a massive celeb≥ation. That was once upon a time. This was this time. And, this time, many hit the floo≥; ducked unde≥ the bed, p≥ecisely. That ticking and toking was the gong sounding fo≥ the economy to come to a sc≥eeching halt. P≥io≥ to the wa≥, the GDP pe≥ capita, acco≥ding to the Wo≥ld Bank, was $1,085 (2013). Compa≥e that to Ken- ya’s $44.1b (2013), Uganda’s $21.48b (2013), Tanzania’s $33.23b (2013), o≥ Rwanda’s $7.45b (2013). That is a lot of money, even if it was not visible anywhe≥e amongst the count≥y’s majo≥ity population in the count≥yside. Ove≥night, this money g≥ew feet and walked away. Investo≥s packed thei≥ bags. Nationals took whateve≥ they could fo≥ thei≥ next exile, o≥ fu≥the≥ into the hinte≥land. The exodus continued th≥ough Janua≥y. If the pulse of an economy can be ≥ead th≥ough he≥ hotels, ba≥s, and ≥estau≥ants, one can say the economy hit he≥ bottom. Chai≥s and tables went unoccupied. Rooms went unoccupied. “The cu≥≥ent conflict has al≥eady inc≥eased pove≥ty estimates in some states and is expected to d≥ive inflation into 2015 as food and livestock p≥oduction has been dis≥upted, putting millions at ≥isk of hunge≥,” acco≥ding to the Wo≥ld Bank. “Ove≥ half of the population was al≥eady below the pove≥ty line befo≥e the conflict and the subsequent steep inc≥ease in p≥ices of key p≥oducts has inc≥eased pove≥ty pa≥ticula≥ly in Jonglei, Unity, and Uppe≥ Nile states.” If we a≥e to measu≥e the economic pulse in te≥ms of the cu≥≥ency p≥og≥ess, then the count≥y is headed fo≥ deep t≥ouble. The count≥y’s cu≥≥ency has fallen nea≥ly a qua≥te≥ the past six months on the black ma≥ket, f≥om about 4 south sudan pound to the dolla≥ to 5.4 to the dolla≥ in Octobe≥. Wa≥ is taking its toll. People who send families to school ab≥oad must now dig deepe≥ into the pockets. Little wonde≥, few analysts see any way out of this. Oil, the la≥gest fo≥eign exchange ea≥ne≥, is down nea≥ly a qua≥te≥ f≥om p≥e-wa≥ time. Without an end to the wa≥, it’s ha≥d to see the black ma≥ket ≥ate headed anywhe≥e else but up. Little wonde≥ that many analysts see a ha≥dening state of a≠ai≥s the yea≥ ahead. When ha≥vests come up empty, the count≥y will be fo≥ced to impo≥t. The UN Food & Ag≥icultu≥e O≥ganisation and othe≥ agencies wa≥n of impending famine. That will fo≥ce mo≥e downwa≥d p≥essu≥e on the cu≥≥ency as money ≥uns out of the count≥y. The possibility of that sce- na≥io is d≥iving most of the cu≥≥ent doomsday fo≥ecasts of the economy. Yet, lost in the doomsday scena≥io is one element: the lesson of wa≥. In the afte≥math of the fighting, one doesn’t find many people who don’t ≥ank gove≥nance and ≥ule of law as impe≥ative fo≥ g≥owth, o≥ that that natu≥al ≥esou≥ces a≥e what make nations, o≥ who still think that gove≥nment should p≥ovide eve≥ything f≥om pocket money, to jobs, to supply cont≥acts. P≥io≥ to wa≥, few thought beyond a gove≥nment handout. Key aspects to g≥owth a≥e igno≥ed, and those include a ≥ule of law, ≥espect fo≥ p≥ope≥ty and cont≥acts, and the aspect education plays. In fact, as wa≥ ≥aged on, one majo≥ p≥oject has been a police eme≥gency numbe≥, whe≥e, the city, Juba, was zoned out, police posts e≥ected, and an eme≥gency line installed fo≥ light at the end of the tunnel “On current reserve estimates, oil production is expected to reduce steadily in future years and to become negligible by 2035,” says the World Bank. How to use the skills of this new returning intellectual group for the public good will be key to a rosy post war future. Besides, things are looking up. If we to take, as we did, a restaurant, hotel & bar index as a measure of the anyone to call in case of t≥ouble. Small steps such as these tend to st≥engthen the ≥ule of law. In addition, ci≥cumstantial evidence indicates that many nationals have left the count≥y to go fo≥ highe≥ education. The wa≥ has put intellectual knowledge ≥ight and cente≥. The thinking, appa≥ently, is that while one cannot ca≥≥y a ba≥ of gold, o≥ a ba≥≥el of oil into exile, one can ca≥≥y a college education to the next destination, if things eve≥ go bad again. This mindset change is key, essentially, because the futu≥e of this count≥y lies ahead. Acco≥ding to the Wo≥ld Bank, 51 out of eve≥y 100 South Sudanese a≥e below 18 yea≥s, and 72 of eve≥y 100 below 30.3 yea≥s old. The hope is that if this population is schooled, the new gene≥ation will ≥etu≥n just in time to pa≥take in the ≥e-development of the count≥y, now ≥eeling unde≥ a yea≥-long wa≥. The challenge, though, is that the wa≥ has also hu≥t that pa≥t of the population, most of it ≥u≥al, that couldn’t take thei≥ families to go study ab≥oad. Aid wo≥ke≥s say schools have been dest≥oyed o≥ occupied by combatants. Yet, that many college-level citizens a≥e headed to unive≥sities else- pulse of the economy, that rosy future is not far off. The night life has slowly returned. Restaurants, bars, hotel rooms are slowly brimming to their pre-war days. The curfew that pervaded the country seems like a generation ago. The ticking we now hear is of an economy warm its engine. It only awaits the politicians negotiating peace talks in Addis Ababa to turn the ignition. whe≥e would seem to indicate a new emphasis on education. Indeed, a su≥vey by Save the Child≥en, in which ≥espondents list education as the most impo≥tant p≥io≥ity, bea≥s this fact out. Save the Child≥en conducted the su≥vey with child≥en, pa≥ents and community leade≥s a≠ected by violence, acco≥ding to a statement made on Octobe≥ 15. “Education is key to help- ing child≥en establish a sense of st≥uctu≥e and no≥malcy du≥ing c≥ises,” acco≥ding to the statement. “It lowe≥s thei≥ ≥isk of being exposed to violence and exploitation as well as to ea≥ly ma≥≥iage, and allows them to develop healthy coping st≥ategies.” Acco≥ding to the statement, education, ≥espondents said, can p≥otect child≥en and save and t≥ansfo≥m thei≥ p≥esent and futu≥e. An 11-yea≥-old gi≥l highlighted how, “Teache≥s teach us how to p≥otect ou≥selves.” The skills which those ≥e- tu≥ning to school acqui≥e will be needed soone≥ not late≥. Fo≥ one, the natu≥al ≥e- sou≥ces may be available now, but they don’t t≥amp the need fo≥ a well-educated populace that can invent stu≠ and c≥eate jobs, especially given the fickle natu≥e of oil.
Oct 13th 2014
Oct 27th 2014