Wednesday, 17 September 2014

"IGAD; EAC - treat Salva Kiir as part of the problem"
5 reasons why the South Sudan crisis must now be dealt with decisively

The crisis in South Sudan now threatens to compromise regional security, peace and stability in Eastern Africa. It is undermining economic and political interests of states in the East African Community (EAC). The region has been putting out fires in the DRC, Burundi and Somalia. A new conflict just dampens momentum for growth - tranquility is attractive for business.

IGAD and EAC heads of state must now loose the friendly posturing and treat Salva Kiir Mayardit as part of the problem – he does not enjoy exclusive legitimacy of office. 

     1. Crisis undermining investment:
Kenyan investors who already had a foothold in South Sudan especially in Banking (Equity, KCB), insurance, ICT, aviation and construction now have their investments hanging in the balance. Businesses belonging to Kenyans were looted during the heat of the violence in late 2013 and early 2014. Some businesses have closed down; others have scaled down operations fearing further losses.

2. Job losses:
Thousands of East Africans, Kenyans especially have lost jobs due to the ensuing crisis in Juba. In Kenya for example some 12 thousand people were registered by the foreign office as working in South Sudan; another 20 thousand were found there unregistered when war broke out in December 2014. All these folks came back to compete for employment. The new directive by the Kiir administration to expunge all expats just exacerbates the problem. 

3. A blow to regional trade:
South Sudan is an important export destination for East African goods especially for Kenya and Uganda. Kenyan exports to South Sudan were equal to 10.2% of all trade to COMESA in 2013. South Sudan is the 4th largest export destination for Kenyan goods and services out of the 18 COMESA countries. Since most of the trade is carried out via road transport; continued conflict diminishes the volume of trade.

4. Slowing down EAC regional integration:
The crisis continues to put some of the ambitious joint EAC infrastructure projects like LAPSSET and Standard Gauge railway into jeopardy for as long as it lasts. Conflict slows down entry of South Sudan into the EAC which would be great for trade and investment in Eastern Africa.

5. Refugee crisis getting out of hand:
East African states – Kenya and Uganda are already overwhelmed by the influx of refugees from DRC, South Sudan, and Somalia. The refugee situation precipitated by the Juba crisis is stretching capacity to host refugees beyond limit. Kenya now has more than half a million refugees to deal with. Moreover, the refugee situation is proffering security challenges: - proliferation of illegal arms, influx of contraband and penetration of the Al Shabab terrorist cell in the horn of Africa that has already caused enough mayhem. The South Sudan conflict could as well spread into the refugee camps.

1 comment:

  1. As an investor in the Co-operative bank which ventured into the government of South Sudan (GoSS) through a partnership agreement where GoSS held half of the shares of the GoSS co-op bank subsidiary, I felt affected directly. I wondered what such a directive meant for such partnerships where Kenyans also had a right to benefit from directly.
    Whenever I walk in the streets of Nairobi, I don’t get surprised when I meet Sudanese who now live and work here. As to whether majority of them are expatriates or whether there were no Kenyans fit to take their roles, your guess is as good as mine. We had hosted them as brothers/sisters.

    What Kiir is dong is simply Neanderthal, stone-age. I am not saying they should give up job opportunities to foreigners without questioning. But my interpretation of the circular was that none of us is needed in South Sudan.