Maintaining political stability In South Sudan will help spur economic development in East Africa, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has said.
This was one of the major themes that emerged during the opening session of the IGAD Council of Ministers (COM) – Intensive Interlinked Consultations (IIC) ahead of the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HRLF) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
IGAD is an eight-country trade bloc in Africa. It includes governments from the Horn of Africa, Nile Valley, and the African Great Lakes. Its headquarters are in Djibouti City. IGAD’s eight member states, which include, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, have a combined estimated GDP of $197.2 billion.
IGAD has been a staunch supporter of initiatives to improve the investment, trade and banking environments of member states since 2008. The organization has often stressed on the deployment of highly innovative programmes and mechanisms.
South Sudan will need these mechanisms in order to achieve economic growth. According to a report from TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) – an organization that seeks to alleviate poverty in the region, South Sudan relies heavily on imported goods, while the economy relies heavily on oil revenue which accounts for 90% of all exports and 98% of public revenue. TMEA states that a recent global fall of oil prices has led to critical shortage of foreign exchange and devaluation of the SS currency.
In 2016 South Sudan exported goods worth $2.74 billion, making it the 147th largest exporter in the world. The most recent exports are led by Crude Petroleum which represent 49.4% of the total exports of South Sudan, followed by Other Oily Seeds, which account for 0.129%.
South Sudan recently joined the East African Community (EAC), within which it hopes to trade more with its neighbours, strengthen its governance structures, and increase economic activity. However it faces challenges in implementing EAC commitments, TMEA said in a statement.
At the session, the Ministers affirmed their plans aimed at mediating between the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement /Army in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) on outstanding issues identified at the end of the last session of the forum.
Among other countries, Kenya has reaffirmed its commitment to support the ongoing efforts towards achieving lasting peace in South Sudan.
Speaking at the session on May 12th, 2018, Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Ababu Namwamba expressed the Government of Kenya’s message of goodwill towards the peace process. He emphasized that the ultimate responsibility on the situation in South Sudan rests in the hands of the leaders and the people of South Sudan.
The main objectives of the IIC are to intensify its engagement with the opposing Parties in order to understand their positions and interests, explore potential comprise areas, and narrow the differences between them on key outstanding issues.
The organization believes that lasting peace will help the country achieve economic growth.
The CAS emphasized that South Sudan remains a strategic partner for Kenya, based on matters of mutual interest between the two countries and the region at large.
“If South Sudan hurts, the whole region hurts, the CAS stressed, urging the parties to stay focused on an agenda of inclusivity, goodwill and commitment. In addition, he persuaded the warring parties to make necessary comprises and sacrifices to reach a positive conclusion in order to ensure that dreams of the people of South Sudan are realised.
Namwamba also advised the parties to build trust and confidence among themselves since they are one people with a shared history, heritage and dreams.
The first round of the shuttle diplomacy was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13th to 16th April 2018, while the second round was held in Juba from 28th April to 1st May 2018. The High-level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) is scheduled to resume in Addis Ababa Ethiopia from 17th to 21st, May 2018.