The soon to be independent oil rich state of South Sudan will mobilize 500 billion dollars worth of investment for infrastructure development in the next five years, says the region’s Vice President, Riek Machar Teny.
South Sudan is currently one of the poorest countries in the world but potentially rich with promising resources such as agriculture and oil, among others. Currently its yearly overall budget is less than 1.5 billion dollars of which 98% comes from its share of 50% from oil revenues.
The new independent state will need hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in order to connect its territory, which is the size of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania combined with expensive roads and bridges. The region will also build refineries and pipelines to transport its crude oil to the international market.
The South also embarks on introducing real estates for decent housing through direct foreign investment in the ten states as well as build hydro electric dam to light the whole region, among many more expensive projects of service delivery to the people.
In a press briefing on Wednesday shortly after his arrival to Juba from his three weeks visit to the United States of America during which he mobilized for support for the new independent state, Machar said he participated in the UN’s special session of Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on South Sudan in New York.
"The main objective in the ECOSOC is to mobilize the world to support South Sudan and Sudan in different areas such as infrastructures, agriculture, rule of law and good governance and etc," he stated in a one page press briefing document seen by the Sudan Tribune.
Machar said after independence the focus will shift to attracting investments in the new nation. He said he met with a number of key investors during his visit in the US who expressed interest to invest in the region after independence.
"With these visits and many more to come, the focus will be to attract investors to come and invest in South Sudan and we want to build South Sudan to be the best in the region and the world," he said.
The Vice President expressed optimism that South Sudan would become the "hub" of Africa, adding the nation is also geographically the center of the continent. "70 kilometers away from Juba in Tali, Central Equatoria, this is where the center of Africa is. We will build an airport in South Sudan whereSouth Sudan can be the hub of the African Countries and the world just like Dubai and Singapore."
"We will raise 500 billion dollars from private investments in the next 5 years to build this nation to catch up with the rest of the world in infrastructure development. There is no reason why we should not be the best of the best in the region and the world. We have resources and we will utilize the resources to benefit our nation," he further assured.
He described his visit to the US as success during which he held several meetings with officials of the US administration, Congress and the United Nations on issues pertaining to the emerging new nation, the Abyei crisis and the fighting in Nuba Mountains in addition to Blue Nile.
"The conclusion of my visit to USA was a success. Both the Congressional and U.S Government officials expressed their support to the new state and to make this state viable and support it in all areas."
He said he also discussed with the US Congress the need to lift sanctions imposed on Khartoum, particularly on oil sector, arguing that the continuity of the sanctions will not only harm North Sudanbut also affect the new state of South Sudan which depends on oil facilities from the North such as the pipelines and refineries as well as the export terminal.
While in New York I had meetings with UN SG Ban Ki Moon, UN President of the General Assembly Amb. Joseph Deiss, UNSC Permanent members (USA, U.K. France, China and Russia), the President of the UNSC and some UNSC non-permanent members,” he added.
He further added that he also met with senior officials of the United Arab Emirates in Dubai and agreed that a conference for South Sudan on trade and investment will be conducted in October this year in Dubai. Machar who described Dubai as "an outreach" to other Arab nations added that the conference would also be sponsored by the United Arab Emirates.
"This will be an opportunity for all the Gulf and Arab states to come together and support the new state economically," he said.
The Vice President further revealed that South Sudan will open an embassy in Dubai soon after independence to deal with issues on trade and investment.