28 February 2011 – With Southern Sudan preparing for independence, the regional government today launched a three-year private sector development programme to improve the investment climate of the south.
Present at the launch in the regional capital of Juba were Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Vice-President Riek Machar, World Bank International Finance Corporation (IFC) Vice-President for Business Advisory Services Rachel Kyte, GoSS Minister for Investment Oyay Deng Ajak and other government officials as well as members of the donor community.
Ms. Kyte noted that Southern Sudan had potential to be the new land of opportunity in Africa if good governance, peace, transparency and accountability existed.
The World Bank Group, she added, would support the establishment of a strong foundation to stimulate investment, create jobs and bring about economic change. "This will produce a successful and sustainable future for the southerners," said the IFC Vice-President.
A partnership between GoSS and IFC, the private sector development programme will include an improvement in the investment climate, unlocking growth in priority sectors --financial markets, health, education, infrastructure, agribusiness, oil, gas and mining – as well as development of small and medium sized enterprises.
Some $10 million has been set aside to fund and implement the programme. "This money will primarily be contributed by governments of the Netherlands, South Sudan, as well as, Denmark, Ireland, Norway and USAID," Ms. Kyte said.
A first phase, which ran from 2006 to 2010, laid down legal, regulatory and institutional foundations to promote investment.
GoSS Vice-President Machar said the private sector was vital for economic development in a region where growth had not been viable due to civil wars. "We are starting from zero, so it is our collective responsibilities to ensure robustness in non-oil revenue sectors."
He acknowledged that multiple challenges, including arbitrary taxation, insecurity and lack of legislation, had hindered private sector development in the past five years.
"With our independence about to come, I think we shall soon look into some of those concerns and make relevant laws to ensure transparency and procedural collections of taxes from investors."
Minister for Investment Ajak said his ministry had tabled an investment bill in parliament and was waiting for it to be passed. "Once it is out, it will support the ongoing effort to regulate the private sector." More than 10,000 businesses, the majority of which were micro-enterprises had been registered in the last six years.