March 9, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan said Friday it will host a a high level investment summit later this month expected to bring together more than 300 participants from different parts of the world. The announcement comes as South Sudan’s Vice President draws to a close his visit to the US to promote the young country to investors.
Organised by South Sudan’s ministry of commerce, industry and investment, the summit from 20-22 March will be the first of its kind since South Sudan officially became an independent state in July 2011. After decades of civil war - resulting in the 2005 peace deal that enabled South Sudan to secede - South Sudan is one of the poorest countries the world and relies heavily on imported goods.
Simon Nyang Anei, an undersecretary for investment in the ministry of commerce, industry and investment told Sudan Tribune on Friday that the summit would share and examine existing investment opportunities in different sectors and regions.
The official explained that organisation of such a high level government summit shows that South Sudan is open for business engagement and moving towards integrating into the international economic community.
“The conference will highlight to the world the abundant opportunities and potential area which South Sudan stands to offer after decades of the civil war”, said Anei. The governors of South Sudan’s ten state’s as well as national ministries and "key development partners, associations and investors from different parts of the world".
"The conference would sell the republic of South Sudan as viable investment and business destination”, he explained. The country has minimal infrastructure and problems of insecurity, especially in Unity, Jonglei and Upper Nile States and a largely illiterate population but the government are keen to use the upcoming event to emphasise the potential of both joint partnership and direct investment opportunities.
International companies will be encouraged to engage in commercialising South Sudan’s agriculture and energy industries as well as Information Communication Technology, Anei said.
Echoing Machar’s comments in the US, Anei said that South Sudan was now a sovereign nation having seceded from Sudan, meaning that the eight-month old country did not inherit the economic sanctions the US placed on Sudan for allegedly sponsoring terrorism and for the conduct of its armed forces and paramilitaries in response to the insurgency in Darfur that began in 2003.
“South Sudan is no more part of Sudan. It is already a sovereign nation with business potentials and is free from debts and sanctions as it is no longer part of Khartoum”, he said.
The ministry’s third top official said the new nation has huge potential in oil, agriculture, wildlife and tourism and urged the investors to do business in the region.
A research paper by the Chatham House think tank published in January found that much of the land investment in South Sudan appears to be speculative. A Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) study quoted in the report found that ’with respect to South Sudan, the size of the deals reflects an investor appetite that is remark- able, given the relative insecurity of the area.’
MACHAR VISITS US
In an effort to promote South Sudan to the world’s largest investors, the Vice President of the Republic, Riek Machar Teny, visited the New York Stock Exchange in in the United States of America on Thursday and held a number of meetings with leading business people.
Machar told the investors that South Sudan is now a sovereign nation with business potentials and is free from the debts and sanctions attached to north Sudan, from which South Sudan seceded in July last year. The issue of debts is contested between the two nations, with Khartoum maintaining that South Sudan should share the burden but Juba has so far refused saying that debt was built up financing the military in its two-decade civil war with southern rebels.