The Republic of South Sudan became the youngest nation in Africa after gaining independence on 9 July 2011. South Sudan is a landlocked country bordered by Sudan in the north, Ethiopia in the east, Kenya and Uganda to the southeast, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the southwest, and the Central African Republic to the west, and includes the vast swamp region of the Sudd, formed by the White Nile and known locally as the Bahr al Jabal. The estimated population is over 13 million with a growth rate of 2.58%, and English is the official language.
The currency of South Sudan is the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) and the national GDP is USD 4.67 Billion. South Sudan is the most oil-dependent in the world, with oil exports accounting for almost the totality of exports, and for around 80% of gross domestic product (GDP) directly and indirectly. According to UNCTAD's 2021 World Investment Report, FDI inflows to South Sudan increased from USD -232 million in 2019 to USD 18 million in 2020, despite the global economic and health crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
South Sudan is blessed with abundant natural resources particularly vast water and mineral resources, oil and gas reserves, and wildlife, with a favourable equatorial climate with lots of rainfall. The River Nile that flows across the country is the country's dominant geographic feature together with The Sudd, the world's largest swamp that covers a total area of 30,000 Sq.kms. Although half of South Sudan is arable, very little agricultural land is routinely cultivated, making South Sudan the largest informal food importer in the East African Community, of which it became a full member of in 2016.
Since gaining independence in 2011, the South Sudan government has been working toward developing the legal framework to encourage the growth of the private sector and attract Foreign Direct Investments into the country. It has had some success attracting FDI into the financial sector; of the two dozen commercial banks operating in South Sudan, 80% are foreign-owned, many coming from Uganda and Kenya. The main threats to business success and investment inflows remain political unrest, insecurity, capacity weaknesses and dilapidated infrastructure.
However, despite the political instability South Sudan's economy has managed to maintain reasonable levels of output throughout the protracted period of civil war and the government together with development partners and neighbouring states, is working to create a conducive business environment. The South Sudan Investment Authority may grant special incentives to investments in strategic or transformational sectors, on request, including good tax and duty incentives on capital allowances, deductible annual allowances and other depreciation allowances, guided by the Investment Promotion Act 2009 of South Sudan.
South Sudan holds one of the richest agricultural areas in Africa and the diverse soil and climatic conditions favour the growth of not only food crops including sorghum, maize, finger millet, rice, ground nuts, cassava, sesame, beans, fruits and vegetables, but also high value 'cash' crops like coffee, tea, cotton and sugar cane.
The potential for agricultural production in South Sudan is huge. Half of the 82m hectares of land surface in South Sudan is prime irrigable agricultural land and another 30m hectares is arable. Of the 30 million hectares, less than 5% is routinely under cultivation. In addition, the country has a 11.7-million-strong cattle herd, with 12.3m sheep and 12.6m goats, which present immense opportunity for commercialisation. About 32% of the land is covered in timber-rich forests, while the country's current wild fishery output is 140 000 t/y, with a potential of 200 000 t/y.
However, the agricultural sector is still in a very subsistent state with widespread use of traditional methods and equipment, and there is need for substantial investment to transform it to the level of being an export contributor. An increase in productivity of the sector requires increased level of mechanization and improved seeds and fertilisers and the use of new agricultural techniques and varieties. South Sudan is has multiple surface and ground water sources that are prime for irrigation development, to increase agricultural productivity.
Development of the agricultural sector would allow South Sudan to diversify her economy away from the heavy dependence on oil, and to mitigate the poverty and food insecurity of people at home, and in the region where the demand is high. Indeed, South Sudan has the capacity to produce more maize than her neighbours Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia combined, if there is substantial agricultural investment that utilizes the vast swathes of arable land.
South Sudan provides long-term leases for agricultural projects as well as preferential access to the U.S. market via African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Opportunities in Agriculture include:
South Sudan is still vastly unexplored in regard to geological surveys and mineral exploration, but nonetheless substantial mineral deposits have been identified in locations across the country including gold, diamond, copper, iron-ore, manganese, cobalt, limestone, chrome, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver and dolomite/marble. The iron stone plateau that stretches across several states in the north and west was the source of iron before colonization, and the abundance of iron ore here could sustain many iron smelting factories for several years. The quantity of identified limestone deposits is sufficient to sustain cement and glass making factories.
The mining sector is very much in its infancy with very little prospecting carried out so far, and there is need for extensive infrastructural development to exploit the 150 000 km2 of South Sudan land surface has been designated for exploration and mining, before the it can become an engine for economic change. There is currently no industrial scale mining in South Sudan and the human and regulatory capacity is under developed, but the Government is working to stream line the sector by developing the regulatory capacity and frameworks and content for local and international investors.
The opportunities in the Mining sector include:
The biggest resource in South Sudan is oil. The country has reserves of around 1.4-billion barrels of oil, produces 165 000 bbl./d of oil from about 700 wells, but only 30% of the total oil reserves are being explored and less than 30% is being extracted. In addition, two-thirds of the country's land surface has shown potential for hydrocarbons, but only a quarter of the land has been explored. Oil is exported through a pipeline that runs to refineries and shipping facilities at Port Sudan on the Red Sea.Currently production in South Sudan comes from three concession areas where the Government is aiming to ramp up production to drive investment towards exploration of existing blocks and potential new blocks.
The energy sector in South Sudan also has huge potential in in solar, wind, and hydropower with multiple power generation opportunities on River Nile.
Opportunities in oil include: