South Sudan- Tanzania opens door for business

By Ephraim Modi Duku Sokiri

The Government of South Sudan and Tanzania, all members of the East African Community have yesterday collaborated and held a business forum in Juba to deliberate on ways of how the two countries can work together in the trade industry.

Speaking at the forum, South Sudan’s Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Agok Makur who also graced the first business forum between the two African states has opened the space for the Tanzania counterparts to invest in the country.

“We invite all businessmen and investors to come to South Sudan, given a chance to any investor or business (people) to come to (and) invest in South Sudan,” he stated.

As Government of National Unity, the South Sudan Investment Climate Statements 2022 released by the U.S Department of State, United States of America states that the trade and investment conditions in country improved slightly in the past year, but many challenges remain.

The Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) continued its mandate to implement the 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS), although key provisions on security, governance, and transitional justice remain outstanding. The transitional government continued implementing public financial management (PFM) reforms including stabilizing the South Sudanese Pound (SSP).

And so, the deputy minister of finance and planning has this to highlight, “We as government of unity of South Sudan, we have been working together to… (tangle) a situation of economic in South Sudan and as we grow, our resources that we rely (on) is oil fee. But now…are (we) need to invest in different resources in South Sudan. Therefore, I welcome you (Tanzanians) all as business men (women) to South Sudan, ‘feel free’.”

Meanwhile the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Investment Hon. Amb. Yel Koor has also stated that the country needs to diversify the economy and create laws in which, it requires high investment budget.

“Investment has to define finance and positive climate has to be created through a process that emphasis stability and transference,” he said.

He further revealed that the government has taken some steps to promote investment in the country and foreign investors can invest in any place in the country in partnership with local investors of 21% and will not nationalize any enterprise to be compelled by law, vice versa.

On the other part, the Tanzanian representative and Chairperson of Tanzania Trade’s Board of Directors Prof. Ulingeta O.L. Mbamba admitted that the government of Tanzania is responsible to organizing trade activities and promotes events within and outside the country.

He as well revealed that the government of Tanzania is entitled to promote trade between the two countries and to strengthen diplomatic relationship and partnership by ensuring that opportunities are created and realize the potentials for the two African states.

The report continues to explain that South Sudan economy is highly dependent on oil-revenue. The transitional government did not institute any new programs in the past year to diversify the country’s economy. South Sudan’s oil sector is fraught with corruption and mismanagement.

The country’s oil-producing firms and the Ministry of Petroleum remain on the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List. The U.S. government assesses the 15 entities BIS added to the Entity List are contributing to the ongoing crisis in South Sudan “because they are a source of substantial revenue that, through public corruption, is used to fund the purchase of weapons and other material that undermine the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan rather than support the welfare of the South Sudanese people.”

Corruption and malfeasance extend beyond the oil sector. Transparency International ranked South Sudan the world’s most corrupt country in its 2021 rankings. Additionally, a September 2021 UN Human Rights Commission report highlighted the link between South Sudan’s human rights violations and economic crimes.

Humanitarian and development aid are a major source of employment. The difficulties humanitarian service providers face of arbitrary and conflicting regulations, multiple layers of taxation, airport and border obstructions, labor harassment, and looting of warehouses demonstrate what private investors can expect to encounter.

The legal system is underfunded, dysfunctional, and subject to corrupt practices and interference. Government entities do not enforce laws equitably or consistently. Corrupt government officials operate with impunity. The legal framework governing investment and private enterprises remains underdeveloped. Contract dispute litigants are sometimes arrested and imprisoned until they agree to pay a financial settlement even when never charged an offense or brought to court.

Other factors inhibiting investment in South Sudan include a lack of skilled and unskilled labour and limited physical infrastructure riddled with arbitrary checkpoints. The International Peace Information Service (IPIS) published a December 2021 report that found checkpoints make transport in South Sudan among the most expensive in the world.

The U.S. Department of State maintains a Do Not Travel Advisory for South Sudan due to crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

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