Economy, News

Why The ‘Lost Decade’ of South Sudan Calls for Impact Investment

South Sudan gained its inde­pen­dence ten years ago, on July 9th 2011. This makes it the youngest nation in the world. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the vital­i­ty and promise of youth seem to be absent in the ten-year-old nation. Lam­en­ta­bly, there isn’t much to cel­e­brate on this tenth anniver­sary to a point that Pres­i­dent Sal­va Kiir him­self has just referred to the last ten years as ‘a lost decade’.

Near­ly half a mil­lion lives have been lost in the coun­try’s unend­ing civ­il war. Part­ly as a result of this state of affairs, one-fifth of South Sudan’s 11 mil­lion peo­ple are refugees in oth­er coun­tries, includ­ing Kenya. This is akin to hav­ing ten mil­lion Kenyans liv­ing out­side the coun­try as refugees. That would def­i­nite­ly cramp the nation. Out of those who have decid­ed to brave it in their coun­try, 8.3 mil­lion peo­ple are depen­dent on human­i­tar­i­an aid. Among them are 4.5 mil­lion chil­dren. These dire sta­tis­tics were revealed by UNICEF in a report that was released last week. The report fur­ther revealed that 2.8 mil­lion South Sudanese chil­dren are not in school. Con­se­quent­ly, Sudan has the unfor­tu­nate dis­tinc­tion of hav­ing the high­est pro­por­tion of out-of-school chil­dren in the world. This paints a very bleak pic­ture of the coun­try’s future. In light of all these chal­lenges, it’s no sur­prise that South Sudan is the sec­ond poor­est coun­try in the world, behind only Burundi.

Against this bleak back­drop, it’s no won­der that South Sudan ranks a dis­mal 186th in the World Bank’s ease of doing busi­ness rank­ing. This places it firm­ly in the unen­vi­able posi­tion of being one of the fifth-worst coun­tries in the world to do business.

Even oil, which is South Sudan’s strong point, is founder­ing. Oil cur­rent­ly accounts for 70% of South Sudan’s GDP and more than 90% of pub­lic rev­enues. Such oil depen­dence has had dis­as­trous con­se­quences in the past. Back in 2012, Sudan shut down South Sudan’s oil export pipelines. This was occa­sioned by a dis­pute between them. As a result of the oil pipes shut­down, South Sudan’s GDP declined by a stag­ger­ing 50% dur­ing the one year that the pipes were not oper­at­ing. Since then, unsta­ble glob­al oil prices have stripped away 40% of the gov­ern­men­t’s revenues.

LPG is both envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly and healthy because it emits less green­house gas­es than char­coal, wood or paraf­fin. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, only ten per­cent of Kenyans use it because its cost remains prohibitive.

Through impact invest­ment, South Sudan can be able to boost its ser­vice sec­tor, which cur­rent­ly accounts for 6.1% of its GDP. Oth­er con­trib­u­tors to the econ­o­my like agri­cul­ture can also ben­e­fit from impact investment.

How­ev­er, invest­ment hates con­flict. The Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions Think Tank esti­mates that the death toll from eth­nic clash­es could be as high as 383,000. Even if this num­ber turned out to be ten times less, South Sudan would still be con­sid­ered a con­flict hotspot.

As long as dead­ly eth­nic clash­es remain a part of the South Sudan soci­ety, it will be dif­fi­cult to attract or cre­ate a mean­ing­ful invest­ment that can great­ly aid in boost­ing rev­enue as it tack­les press­ing soci­etal and envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems. One of these prob­lems is healthcare.

In South Sudan, there is only one doc­tor for 65,574 cit­i­zens. This means that there is a need for health­care invest­ment that will dras­ti­cal­ly low­er this dis­mal doc­tor-patient ratio. A sub­stan­tial increase in doc­tors will gen­er­ate more jobs in the health­care val­ue chain, which will pri­mar­i­ly ben­e­fit the peo­ple of South Sudan.

Of course, one may right­ful­ly ask if there are skilled South Sudanese per­son­nel that can occu­py such jobs. As a Lec­tur­er at the Kenya For­eign Ser­vice Insti­tute, I trained var­i­ous South Sudan diplo­mats on mat­ters of green invest­ment. I know that my stu­dents are green ambas­sadors wher­ev­er they are and that such oppor­tu­ni­ties for edu­ca­tion-ori­ent­ed invest­ment still exist.

Here­in lies the pow­er of impact invest­ment — it treats every soci­etal and envi­ron­men­tal prob­lem as an oppor­tu­ni­ty for invest­ment that will solve such prob­lems. Hence, we must think and act green!

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About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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