Saturday, 24 December 2011

Bottom Billion country profile: South Sudan

South Sudan' a country which achieved independence fro Sudan in July 2011, splitting the mostly black south from the mainly Arab north after a bloody 20-year conflict in which two million people were nearly killed. The prospects for a child today are very poor: an estimated 92% are illiterate, and it is ranked 154 out o 169 in the UN's HDI, lagging behind most of Africa.It has almost no infrastructure (in a country larger than France, there were less than 40km of roads at the start of this year) and is approaching a nationwide famine.

But why oh why is it like this - do we refer back, as always to Collier's Bottom Billion and his list of factors which contribute to the African poverty trap....?

On the face of things there should be huge opportunities - South Sudan is rich in oil, which provides 98% of government revenues. But the oil must be exported through the pipeline of its northern neighbour, Sudan and tense relationships mean conflict and sabotage is rife. In addition to this there is a shortage of leadership and key skilled workers - there are 3 surgeons in a country with the highest maternal mortality rate in the world!

A difficult development pathway is ahead but Sudan has the resources it just needs to ensure that its people reap the benefits as opposed to the hungry foreign giants like TNCs and China as well as neighbouring entrepreneurs looking, as ever to exploit, a very vulnerable country.

Watch this space....