By Julius N. Uma
November 11, 2011 (JUBA) - The European Union (EU) Commission has pledged €200m to the Republic of South Sudan (RSS), as part of their commitment to strengthen development support in Africa’s newest nation, Andris Piebalgs, the EU commissioner for development said on Friday.
The funds, Piebalgs added, will mainly address key sectors like health, education, rule of law and infrastructural development, focusing on feeder roads construction.
“The EU is currently preparing South Sudan to develop a strategic framework that will cover the period 2014-2020. This framework will help government address the needs of its citizens,” the EU commissioner told the press in Juba, the country’s capital.
Piebalgs, however, urged South Sudan to focus on diversifying its economy, saying over-reliance on oil revenue can sometimes be disastrous. Nearly 98% of South Sudan’s revenue comes from oil.
He said, “Oil is a blessing, but it needs to be carefully utilised,” adding that more emphasis needed to be put on increasing agricultural productivity in the country’s rural locations.
About 80% of South Sudan’s population depends on agriculture, which is the the backbone of the rural economy. However, only 4% of the country’s agricultural land is said to be in use.
Meanwhile, the EU Commissioner lauded what he described as South Sudan
President, Salva Kiir’s firm commitment to fight corruption in government as well as the Central Bank over its recent move to regulate money exchange in the country.
“The recent increases in prices and rising inflation raised concern to everyone. However, the government needs to put place good public finance systems to effectively manage the country’s economy,” said Piebalgs, while adding that the EU joint programming exercise was also presented and discussed with several members of the southern government.