• Acuil Banggol

OPINION: What is South Sudan’s path to prosperity?

Acuil Banggol, Juba

Once, while attending a biochemistry class, we, especially me, got some hints on how the digestive systems works through metabolism. We began to present questions, enthusiastically trying to learn more.

Yet, our professor warned us not to start believing that we had become medical doctors.

I am careful not to become an economist, worst a false one. Thank you to my team and readers for keeping me in check. Some have demonstrated support.

Professor Spencer has been an educative and enabling counsel. I buy a lot into his wisdom and advice to be careful about angel investors, the dangers of plagiarism, and those who prove their worth to be able to fool host communities, the investors, or both. It is a strange world, isn’t it?

I should not assume to be the only one smart enough to be exposed or become a victim. Nevertheless, I desire to try to have the best and dignified satisfaction: another trap.

I have no empirical data, but let me share the following lessons from others.

In South Africa, for understandable reasons, I see the Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters attacking foreign direct investment as evil. Yet, we seem to call for it. From this, I have been considering the phraseology of ‘indigenous’ and ‘direct foreign’ investment. In his analysis of these terms, Professor Spencer emphasises only the ‘investment’ aspect. Yet, my study is supported by South Sudan’s Constitution, specifically Article 37. Here, it explicitly mentions ‘indigenous entrepreneurs’. Both this and my political outlook make such important.

Under the 2012 South Sudan Companies Act, an able national must hold a minimum of 31% of the shares in a medium or large-scale business registered in South Sudan. This is accompanied by a reference to at least 1% of shareholdings. Yet, the issue here is that even shareholdings of up to 10% are little more than peanuts, or at best monthly upkeep. How, by whom and when could this system be streamlined?

I have also noticed how senior officials are being exploited by angel investors. They use governmental systems to loot the country, partnering with foreigners in certain industries.

When I visited El Salvador, I saw that the country was reliant on remittance payments from their citizens working abroad in the United States to the point they used the US dollar as their national currency. This seemingly both encouraged foreign investment, but also provided quality, honest and proficient labour.

Notably, Qatar and Dubai have made their country international business hubs. There, only 25% of the population are nationals.

Singapore is another success story, of which I could repeat what has been said above.

Considering the Asian tiger economies, each has its own story. Yet, I have little ideas as to what has happened in North and South Korea.

China has its own approach. Open and parallel engagement is rapidly ending as companies are being quickly bought by the Chinese. The nation is often referred to by others as communist. Despite this, it is more apt to speak of socialism in a Chinese context. Their mission is to create billionaires in a planned, projected and phased manner. It is happening at this point in time. Chinese poverty reduction is an ongoing process.

Japan and Germany present their own unique stories of post-conflict growth, success, improvement and economic renaissance.

Could this be replicated? The question of Israel in this respect is also relevant.

In its economic policy, the SPLM refers to a mixed economy. I have spoken about Article 37 in the constitution and the 2012 Companies Act. Hence, when Professor Spencer places his emphasis on ‘investment’, there must be some South Sudanese common ground. Perhaps I am green to this, though a South Sudanese context is required.

Former colonial territories must be viewed not as arenas of exploitation, but instead hosts to investment. This evolution has been shown in the Royal Bakofeng Nation, in Southwest South Africa. Here, there is an interest system of land leasing and investment for the sake of acquiring company shares. I hope South Sudanese policy makers could explore similar ideas in the formation of a land policy.

Let us compare systems of land tenure in Liberia, Australia, and Canada with that of South Sudan. In the spheres of private, public and community land tenure, South Sudan has been exploited by colonialists and elitist oligarchs. Hate, desperation, despair, distrust, militarism and chauvinism has been liberally spread. They have, in their own ways, shaped a South Sudanese context and become that awulaat jenub realism. Such problems are exacerbated by the absence of shared heritage and historic institutions. Nevertheless, I believe there is hope.

In considering an economic proposal, I have considered the work of the UNDP, AfDB, World Bank and the IMF. I have presented the Millennium Institute with their work on modelling sustainable development goals, as evidenced in the work of the UNDP. Yet, the UNDP is not the only organisation working towards sustainable development goals, nor is the Millennium Institute their only partner. South Sudan has mentioned sustainable development goals in the national and SPLM constitutions. In this respect, I am talking only of what I know. Hence, I hope others could advise us on how to make the plans of the state economic cluster, RTGoNU and UNDP amongst others work for South Sudan.

I am acutely aware that all of the above is an ongoing process, and I am aware of the challenges presented by mindset and how these are difficult to alter.

I have presented suggestions of what I assume to be a conduit to SDGs and UNDP in South Sudan. I went so as far to advise where, what and how to try, test and consider.

I am a lobbyist. I have a perspective, but I stand to learn from my team. It is why I bring my thoughts and ideas to be scrutinised, assessed and considered. Only from such a process can we hope for better options. Hence, my endless attempts to touch here and there might occasionally cause challenges.

My suggestions are always with references to those who may be contacted but not necessarily involved in our strategic planning and documentation. I have never asked for our paper to be compiled by Professor Spencer. However, at some points, these documents are to be shared. Say, for example, when we seek accreditation and when we seek approval and ownership by the party structures and organs. I leave this to experts and program holders.

I am a member of a willing group, whose may be contacted at www.cowilling.org .

We connect knowledge, resources, and needs. It is in the humanitarian, development, business, and policy spheres. We are activist lobbyists, not investors. As individuals like myself, we may have business and political interests. Sure, there are economic returns, but the policy process is largely to satisfy my political aspirations. I appear a novice, but I am thirsty or loyal to my aspirations to see a free, peaceful, just, prosperous, and united ethnic federal South Sudan where everyone counts and is responsible. However, it is the team that has helped me and adjusted my stirring character. Please keep holding on, and bear with me!

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