South Sudan economy hijacked

By Alikaya Aligo Samson

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit (left) and Chinese Prime Minister Hu Jintao (right) meeting in China in 2016 [Photo via Reuters]

South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit (left) and Chinese Prime Minister Hu Jintao (right) meeting in China in 2016 [Photo via Reuters]

OPINION – My economic and social reconnaissance around the city of Juba I discovered that the economy is hijacked by foreigners and there is a too high percentage of unemployment among the nationals. Foreign businesspersons established their economic enclaves and have their own engineers, lawyers, brokers, doctors, tricycles, restaurants, and even tea-sellers girls/women. Someone told me that they have their own foreign shoe polishers. The UN and its sisterly international organizations almost do the same. They award lucrative contracts to foreign nationals. Of cause, the Chinese, sincerely, I have no comment.

Also, the public sector in South Sudan has created employment enclaves through nepotism, favoritism, and an unclear employment recruitment policy. No pension scheme and unfortunately the old ones who have been working since the 1960s are carrying age certificates of under 50 years old in South Sudan. This has badly frustrated the public sector and made it not to perform and deliver the expectation of the citizens.

However, for South Sudan to regain control over its economy and generate employment there is a need to evolve policies to develop and promote indigenous entrepreneurs both in the rural and urban setup. Also, the respective professional syndicates must wake up to protect domestic employment markets for nationals. Our professionals have the bad practice of selling their licenses to foreigners and then continue loitering across night clubs or traveling abroad without doing any work. This is laziness, unethical and should be maximumly discouraged.

In Uganda, they have the ‘Ugandan Indigenous Entrepreneurs Association’ which is working day and night to protect their internal markets and give priority to Ugandan sons and daughters to strive in a well-facilitated ground. All progressive African nations are doing similar and they are witnessing economic and political stability at a faster rate. Tanzania is achieving the status of middle income in less than 20 years of constructive political will and economic programs. There is a need to borrow such effective policies and strategies to ensure that we own our economy and improve income per capita particularly in the productive rural areas.

What we need is potential and genuine investors not the creation of an uncontrolled market for foreign economic migrants in South Sudan. South Sudan, sofar, has over 1.5 million foreigners who dominated the macroeconomic sector depriving the nationals of employment opportunities. Also, they establish factories outside the countries with money scooped from South Sudan while securing the consumption market to be South Sudan. As a result, South Sudan will never realize tangible economic growth in the near future.

Hence, the South Sudan policy-making circles must hurry to work out viable policies and strategies to harness economic reliance and employment that eventually bring back dignity to the indigenous populace. Much focus should be on how to revamp rural development through the current urbanization process in South Sudan. We have the resources to achieve that, we can do it if there is a change in heart and will to make our citizens prosper. Otherwise, militias and ethnic conflicts shall remain lucrative businesses in the country.

During my reconnaissance, I work with a head bow down and broken heart, because, I can’t believe that this is happening in my country, South Sudan. I couldn’t believe that this will be the outcome of our hard and long sociopolitical struggle for a nation. Really, are others seeing what I saw? So, let us plan to unlock what we saw before unlocking the corona lockdown.

The author is a concerned citizen of South Sudan.

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