South Sudan News Agency

Wednesday, Oct 01st, 2014

Last update04:43:59 AM GMT

You are here: Opinion

I can do better than president Salva kiir

By: Sirir Gabriel Yiei Rut

August 25, 2014 (SSNA) -- Our focus must now be on how do we become the leaders and ensure that our skills are applied to develop our country.

I think it’s time we south Sudanese began to create other leadership alternatives and not wait for political parties to be our sole source of the future leadership of south Sudan.

We have, unfortunately, limited the pool from which we can draw those who can create a better future for our country by looking only to politicians to provide the leadership.

Well, it must be clear to all that they have failed and will continue to do so because of personal interests.

I continue to attend many discussions on solutions for south Sudan and all the time, I end up convinced that as long as we sit and complain or discuss solutions, we will never really create the circumstances we want.

We have to now decide that we do not want to be led by average men who happen to be in politics and so we must step up and increase the competition.

We all agree what is wrong with south Sudan, but more important, we all know what it takes to revive this economy. We have everything we need to make that happen. Our focus must now be how do we become the leaders and ensure that our skills are applied to develop our country.

In my opinion, SPLM Juba Faction is everything we do not need simply because they have demonstrated to us that they are unable to take south Sudan forward firstly because of their culture of management and secondly because of the political baggage which they carry.

We cannot expect these individuals to create a modern, vibrant democracy in south Sudan.

I have also recently relooked at the Medium-Term Economic Plan tabled during the Government of National Unity in 2010 and I must say, it is a comprehensive and well-thought out document that far surpasses south Sudan Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation or any other blueprints.

So, as far as I am concerned, we already have a solution that is ready to be applied in reviving the economy. There is no shortage of ideas there.

What we need now to do as responsible citizens is to change the politics of the country by getting involved and to be the change that we want to see. Gone are the times where we can be content.

The recent rant by President Salva Kiir Mayardit on the land issue must be a clear indication to all that he must go. We can no longer afford to be taken back as a country at the whim of an individual who has clearly failed to lead south Sudan.

Even his team of ministers has cost this country so much and we must not allow them to continue to plunder and under develop our country. We must now all say enough is enough.

In my opinion, south Sudan needs a very simple five-point plan: restore the rule of law through credible institutions, maximize revenue collection and minimize costs, allocate resources better and ensure accountability, encourage free enterprise without government interference in business and attract new investment aggressively.

If a sitting President can only focus on these issues our economy would be back on the recovery path. South Sudan can no longer afford village mentality at State House.

The challenge we face is to have politicians who are not loyal to their political parties, but to south Sudanese first and I am afraid that the current political parties we have will not serve our interests first.

We need independent thinkers who are not in positions because of their past or party loyalty, we need people with exposure outside south Sudan and we need younger leaders to now come to the fore.

In my view, this can simply be achieved through us coming together as independent democrats who do not have any political party baggage and are well educated and understand how the economy works.

Our politics can no longer be about the struggle, but must now be about effective resource mobilization, allocation and project management. These are the leaders we need to take south Sudan forward.

These kinds of people are definitely not in government or in politics yet but are waiting for change which, unfortunately, can only come through them. It is time to step up and be counted.

My challenge is therefore for all progressive south Sudanese who care about the country to step up so we can establish a new group of individuals, who do not see politics as a platform for personal enrichment but rather to make a difference, serve the people and develop our country.

This means we need a new President of south Sudan who is not drawn from the current political stock.

We also need new informed and skilled members of parliament. We need professionals and not party stalwarts to run south Sudan.

We must begin to think outside the current paradigm if we are to do things differently. We must be courageous just as those who went to the bush for the country and not for personal gain.

I, for one, am certainly sure that I can do a better job than president Salva Kiir has done and invite all democrats who love south Sudan not to be constrained by this political party mentality that is not serving our needs. We must take responsibility now.

The choice is clear; we can sit and point fingers at SPLM Juba Faction until we get old or we can choose to be the solution to south Sudan’s future and actively work together to replace them at all levels of leadership. The future is in our hands.

The author is a student of political science & economic living in Arab republic of Egypt; you can get Him through His contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Intra-Africa trade: Going beyond political commitments

Progress will come when agreements are implemented

Note to editor: With trade within Africa at just about 11%, experts are calling on the continent’s leaders to implement the right policies to boost intra-Africa trade. Africa Renewal’s Masimba Tafirenyika explores the obstacles to trade within the continent and identifies what needs to be done to turn the situation around.

By Masimba Tafirenyika

August 24, 2014 (SSNA) -- Among Africa’s policy wonks, underperforming trade across the continent within the region is a favoured subject. To unravel the puzzle, they reel off facts and figures at conferences and workshops, pinpoint trade hurdles to overcome and point to the vast opportunities that lie ahead if only African countries could integrate their economies. It’s an interesting debate but with little to show for it until now.

The problem is partly the mismatch between the high political ambitions African leaders hold and the harsh economic realities they face. Case in point: they have set up no less than 14 trading blocs to pursue regional integration. Yet they have shown “a distinct reluctance to empower these institutions, citing loss of sovereignty and policy space as key concerns,”  says Trudi Hartzenberg, executive director at the Trade Law Centre (TRALAC) for Southern Africa, an organization that trains people on trade issues.  As a result of this reluctance, she says, “Regional institutions remain weak, performing mainly administrative functions.”

Trade flourishes when countries produce what their trading partners are eager to buy. With a few exceptions, this is not yet the case with Africa. It produces what it doesn’t consume and consume what it doesn’t produce. It’s a weakness that often frustrates policy makers; it complicates regional integration and is a primary reason for the low intra-regional trade, which is between 10% and 12% of Africa’s total trade. Comparable figures are 40% in North America and roughly 60% in Western Europe. Over 80% of Africa’s exports are shipped overseas, mainly to the European Union (EU), China and the US. If you throw into the mix complex and often conflicting trade rules, cross-border restrictions and poor transport networks, it’s hardly surprising that the level of intra-Africa trade has barely moved the needle over the past few decades.

Not everybody agrees intra-Africa trade is that low. Some experts argue that a big chunk of the continent’s trade is conducted informally and at times across porous borders. Most borders, they point out, are often poorly managed or informal trade statistics are simply not included in the official flows recorded by customs officials. “We don’t have a way of capturing these types of activities because they’re informal,” said Carlos Lopes, the head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, in an interview with Africa Renewal. The ECA, he explained, is planning to plug this information gap with a more precise picture of economic activities in Africa and give economic planners a better data set with which to work.

Regional economic blocs

To accelerate regional integration, the World Bank is advising African leaders to expand access to trade finance and reduce behind-the-border trade restrictions such as excessive regulations and weak legal systems. Nevertheless, saddled with weak economies, small domestic markets and 16 landlocked countries, governments believe they can achieve economic integration by starting at the regional level and working their way up, merging all the regional trading blocs into an African Free Trade Area. But with 14 different trading blocs, critics say that’s just too many. Some blocs have overlapping members and many countries belong to multiple blocs.

Yet, the challenge is not simply the number of trading blocs, experts say, but their track record. Governments need to implement their trade agreements. On this score, African countries perform poorly despite their strong political commitment to regional integration, notes Ms. Hartzenberg in her report, Regional Integration in Africa, published by the World Trade Organization, a global body on trade rules.

“In some cases, the challenge is that there may still not be a clear commitment to rules-based governance in African integration; [not] taking obligations that are undertaken in international agreements seriously,” says Hartzenberg in an email responding to questions from Africa Renewal. “Some argue that [African governments] need policy space to address the development challenges they face – but this does appear inconsistent with the signing of many regional agreements.” Lack of capacity to implement their obligations, she adds, is also to blame.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) shares this view. Its analysis of regional integration and intra-trade in Africa imputed slow progress to “a complex architecture of regional economic communities”. While this arrangement has yielded positive steps towards common regional targets, says the bank, “progress has been disappointing.”

Ms. Hartzenberg gave the example of the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional economic group, which launched a Free Trade Area in 2008. Despite SADC’s decision to remove trade restrictions, she says, some countries have not eliminated tariffs as stipulated by the agreement. Worse still, in some cases countries that removed the tariffs have since reinstated them.

To be fair, the SADC Trade Protocol has a provision that allows exemptions from phasing out tariffs. Some countries have applied for such exemptions, the TRALAC executive director said, but others have simply reintroduced the tariffs or alternative instruments such as domestic taxes. “This can be argued to demonstrate a lack of political will to implement agreed obligations. It could well be that some member states recognise belatedly the implications of the agreement they have signed and no longer want to be bound by these obligations.”

Poor infrastructure

Lack of progress in implementing agreement along with the absence of reliable transport, energy and information and technology infrastructure make the journey towards regional integration long and arduous. “Road freight moves incredibly slowly, while major ports are choked for lack of capacity,” observes the AfDB.

Even with the current gains Africa is making in upgrading regional infrastructure, Ibrahim Mayaki, the head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union’s development arm, finds the continent still faces serious infrastructure shortcomings across all sectors, both in terms of access and quality. NEPAD has just completed a 30-year plan that focuses on regional trans-border projects like the 4,500-km highway from Algiers in Algeria to Lagos, Nigeria.

Africa requires huge investments to develop, upgrade and maintain its infrastructure. The AfDB estimates the region would need to spend an additional $40 billion a year on infrastructure to address not only current weaknesses but also to keep pace with economic growth.

Sophisticated protectionism versus EPAs

Many of the trade deals Africa signs with its partners ignore the continent’s efforts to promote intra-Africa trade, according to trade analysts. Nick Dearden, a former director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign and now with World Development Movement, a global advocacy group on poverty, accuses the West of pushing for free trade models that benefit their interests, not Africa’s. He complains that many African countries are “locked into trade agreements which keep them dependent on one or two commodities.”

Writing on his blog hosted by The Guardian, Mr. Dearden says the EU is attempting to foist Economic Partnership Agreements [EPAs] on African countries. EPAs require EU trading partners to lower their tariffs on imports and exports on a reciprocal basis. Mr. Dearden warns that EPAs thwart Africa’s integration efforts and he instead advises African leaders to follow South Korea’s example of using a “range of government interventions” to boost trade. These include, among others, protecting industries, controlling food production and banking, and passing strong regulations to ensure people benefit from trade and investment.

Mr. Lopes of the ECA makes the same point. “Protection is not a bad word,” he asserts. He favours what he calls “sophisticated protectionism” but cautions African leaders to “do it with sophistication, which means you need to strike the right balance.” The ECA boss views sophisticated or smart protectionism not as a choice between state and market as if  they “were two opposites.” His argument is that there cannot be industrialization without some form of smart protectionism; and without industrialization, Africa’s efforts to integrate its economies and increase intra-region trade are less likely to succeed. Free trade enthusiasts, however, argue that protectionist policies could shrink the size of the global economy, create few winners and leave everybody worse off.

Beyond commitments

There is much that African countries need to do to increase intra-regional trade. For instance, they need to reduce dependence on commodities by expanding the services sector, including telecommunications, transport, educational and financial. They need to increase investments in infrastructure. And they need to eliminate or significantly reduce non-tariff barriers that are major roadblocks to intra-African trade. The list of non-tariff barriers is as long as it is comprehensive, ranging from prohibitive transaction costs to complex immigration procedures, limited capacity of border officials and costly import and export licensing procedures. For this to happen, it will take much more than political commitments; it will require practical steps on the ground even if they come with some costs.

Africa Renewal

Stop Bombing Our Hospitals!

By Eric Reeves

August 23, 2014 (SSNA) -- It is a terrible sign of the desperation on the part of the people of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, Sudan. Compelled by three years of unrelenting, indiscriminate, and massively destructive bombing by Khartoum's air force, the people of the Nuba have been driven to plead with these simple photos.  But for all their simplicity, they should be shocking: where else in the world, other than Sudan, are hospital, schools, churches, and mosques regularly targeted for attack?  These attacks are carried out for the most part by Antonov "bombers," highly inaccurate retrofitted Russian cargo planes. They are entirely without the accuracy required for military purposes; they are tasked with sowing civilian destruction and terror.  They have largely destroyed the agricultural economy of the Nuba and over a million people have been displaced or are in acute need of humanitarian assistance.

And still the world will not act to compel Khartoum to halt this savage campaign.  Look carefully at these photographs and imagine yourself among these people.  What would you find acceptable as an explanation of international inaction in the face of your pleas?

Concerted economic pressure by the United States and the countries of the European Union could halt Khartoum's bombing quickly. Why aren't these pressures being exerted?

Eric Reeves' new book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012; www.CompromisingWithEvil.org; review commentary at: http://wp.me/p45rOG-15S)

More Articles...

Page 19 of 590

Our Mission Statement

To bring the latest, most relevant news and opinions on issues relating to the South Sudan and surrounding regions.

To provide key information to those interested in the South Sudan and its people.