AUTHOR: Daniel Garang Deng | PUBLISHED: September 4, 2023
Senior government officials and foreign representatives pose for a picture on the first day of the NEC, Monday, September 4, 2023 | Credit | Daniel Garang Deng/TRC
The first ever South Sudan National Economic Conference has kicked off today at Freedom Hall in Juba, under the theme: “Toward diversified, inclusive and sustainable economic growth in the republic of South Sudan”.
Attended by stakeholders from both in the country and in the region, the conference is set to discuss the challenges facing South Sudan economy and come up with a roadmap, recommendations, and policies that will bring about economic reform.
“The conference is a vital platform for us to collectively examine the challenges facing our economy and work toward solutions that will result in prosperous and resilience economy,” said Josephine Lagu, minister of Agriculture and Food security, and the secretary general of the conference.
She believes that South Sudan, as a young nation, has tremendous potentials for economic growth and development.
South Sudan is known for its riches in natural resources such fertile land, water resources, wildlife, oil, gold, diamonds, silver, and various ores.
But hyperinflation, high debt burden, distortions in the foreign exchange rate market, challenges in budget execution, as well as sub-national conflict have exacerbate the situation economic situation.
In addition, the five-year civil war has disrupted the country’s economy, leading to shortages of goods and services. This has caused prices to rise as people compete for scarce resources.
It has also led to a decline in the value of the South Sudanese pound, with $1 selling at 1,023 Pounds today. Before the conflict erupted in 2013, dollar was selling at about 3.6 Pounds.
For his part , Themba Bhebhe, country manager of the African Development Bank, advised the participants to come up with action-oriented recommendations in order to benefit from the resources it has.
“Countries don’t develop on potentials, countries developed on utilizing that potentials. They can remain forever very potential but if you don’t explore those resources and make effective management of those resources, then you can remain a country with potentials,” Bhebhe said.
Speaking at the same forum, African Union Head of Mission Amb Jerome Bisworo cautioned the leadership against exaggerated recommendations that will end up unimplemented and deceptive to the citizens as they seek ways to revive the falling economy.
“The deliberation that comes out of these meeting should be implemented; it shouldn’t wait for one or three years and you go to the archives for the decision you take here. Please don’t disappoint the South Sudanese. Be realistic and decide things which are in your reach,” Jerome stated.
The five-day conference is being funded by the government of South Sudan with $1 million – the figure equivalent to SSP1 billion as it seeks to shape monetary policies to achieve economic.