As you read this, the party drums are still enduring the beatings of excited Southern Sudanese. It will be weeks or even months before the party frenzy subsides. South Sudan was officially declared independent on Saturday July 9, 2011.
The struggle for independence has been on for ages. As one country the rulers from the Arab north neglected the south yet 80 per cent of the country’s oil resources were situated in the southern part of the country.
As the people of Sudan celebrate their new found independence, the business people in the region and indeed the world over are rubbing their fingers at the emergence of this new business frontier.
Their independence technically means that East Africa’s neighbour to the north is no longer Sudan but South Sudan, a resource rich nation that is faced with numerous development challenges. South Sudan is endowed with huge oil and natural gas reserves.
More so, South Sudan has a lot of cultivable land and is actually about three times the size of Uganda. However, right now it is faced with huge challenges as far as infrastructure is concerned. The exploitation of its resources is greatly impeded by the absence of crucial infrastructure.
But in business, a challenge is indeed an opportunity and smart business people should already be strategising to exploit these opportunities. As a community, Uganda has already positioned itself as a major exporter of food products to South Sudan.
Kenya with its advanced economy has already established a footprint in the corporate world by opening up banks and insurance companies. Kenya’s KCB and Equity Bank already have several branches in South Sudan and intend to open more now that the country has achieved independence.
Already there is a lot of talk concerning South Sudan’s entry to the East African Community.
The biggest incentive here is the numerous business opportunities that the country has. EAC needs to position itself as the major trading partner of this new country.
For these business opportunities to be harvested effectively, countries need to open up embassies in Juba as soon as possible. Soon after independence was declared, Sudan (Khartoum) became the first country to open an embassy in this new country. It was followed by UK. East African countries must do the same as soon as possible.
English and Arabic have been declared as the country’s official languages. However, the education levels in the country are still so low and this means that investing in the education sector there, is not a bad idea.
I am also sure that some wealthy people in the country would love to invest in already established businesses but these are few in their country. Therefore, if the country is admitted to the EAC, then South Sudanese can get to buy shares in major companies trading shares like Bank of Kigali, Bralirwa, Safaricom and others on the different regional stock markets.
With EAC being a neighbour to this new nation, we should be able to partake in the opportunities this country has to offer.