South Sudan resources raise investor hopes

July 8, 2011 at 3:47 PM
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JUBA, Sudan, July 8 (UPI) -- South Sudan's reserve of a great diversity of underexploited resources is seen set to trigger a scramble among corporations and governments for megadeals.

The world's brand new country will party Saturday on the first day of its independence from the Republic of Sudan.

Hundreds of self-inviting campaigners and voluntary and non-government organizations' representatives, as well as invited dignitaries from the developed and developing world gathered in tent hotels in Juba Friday for the celebrations.

After five decades of guerrilla battles, 2 million lives lost and thousands of others maimed and displaced, South Sudan becomes the world's 193rd country. The United Nations will consider its membership Wednesday.

"Never again shall South Sudanese be oppressed for their political outlook," South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit said in a statement.

The Muslim majority northern Sudan has recognized Christian-majority South Sudan amid continuing uncertainties over their future ties and the final outcome of an agreed sharing of oil resources.

South Sudan produces 85 percent of crude oil in the country as it existed Friday. As of Saturday, revenue sharing between Juba and Khartoum is in the cards but questions remain over the stability of the tension-ridden Abyei region.

South Sudanese diplomats who visited London told United Press International several other hydrocarbon deposits not yet commercially explored would be up for negotiation with corporate investors.

A vast range of mineral resources including gold and silver, copper, chromium and iron ores, mica, tungsten and zinc, is likely to provide South Sudan with additional revenues.

British and U.S. advisers and consultants have lined up to steer South Sudan's fledgling administration through a regulatory maze and to make the world's newest republic user friendly for investors, diplomats who attended a pre-launch event at the House of Lords, British Parliament's upper chamber in London, told UPI.

South Sudan will look to partners who'd work to lift the landlocked country out of poverty and abysmal education and health conditions for its estimated 12 million people, said the diplomats, who requested anonymity.

Poor documentation has defied planners seeking to establish basic data about South Sudan, with total population estimates veering by a few millions for the 239,285-square-mile territory.

Africa's 54th state will take its place at the bottom of the developing world huge and pressing needs for development aid complicated by continuing conflict and insecurity, displacement and homeless plight of millions of its citizens and hunger and disease stalking the majority.

Before it kick-starts operations the government is saddled with a huge financial burden of having to maintain a heavily armed force of former rebels that claims more than 60 percent of the spending.

With oil funds South Sudan will have opportunities to build its infrastructure, open schools and expand healthcare -- all areas that require international partnerships.

However, trouble is expected over South Sudan's export transit arrangements. Oil is shipped through Port Sudan, northern Sudan, but some South Sudanese want to find alternative routes through Kenya, an issue seen by analysts as another future flash point.

South Sudan also feels empowered by having the source of the Nile and may demand a greater share of the water, the country's diplomats said, recognizing the view as an area of potential future conflict.

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