South Sudan to learn from Bots
Gaborone ‑ Africa’s newest nation, South Sudan has identified Botswana as one of the countries on the continent that it can learn from in various areas of governance.
South Sudan President General Salva Kiir Mayardit noted that his country is looking forward for inspiration from many development models such as Botswana, but it will ultimately follow one of its own fashioning.
Mayardit was in Botswana recently, for a three-day official state visit.
During the visit, Mayardit and his counterpart Botswana President Ian Khama discussed areas of co-operation, especially in natural resources management, education, health and animal husbandry, among others.
He visited various projects that Botswana has successfully implemented during its 47 years of independence and which has given the country the status of being one of the most successful African states.
Botswana was one of the 25 poorest nations in the world, with only 50 university graduates at the time of independence. It is now one of Africa’s richest countries.
The southern African country succeeded partially because it made education, skills training and water development its top development priorities, according to former President Festus Mogae.
According to Mogae, the country invested in its most important resource – its people. It also created the conditions for citizens to do what they already did best, which livestock is rearing.
The South Sudan delegation, which comprised ministers for foreign affairs and international cooperation, security, health, commerce, animal resources and education, is scheduled to interact with the private sector from various Southern African companies and businessmen in order to encourage them to invest in South Sudan.
South Sudan’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Investment Garang Diing Akuong appealed to Batswana entrepreneurs to consider South Sudan as their investment destination. He said his country’s economy was dependent on revenues from oil, but it has potential in other productive sectors.
“South Sudan government had made it a priority to focus on the development of non-oil sectors to achieve long-term sustainable growth.
“As the world’s youngest nation, abundance of resources and entrepreneurial opportunities are immeasurable providing opportunities for them to exploit and create wealth and jobs,” he said.
Akuong said every business sector in South Sudan’s economy was starting to emerge thus creating an incredible opportunity for business people to invest.
He said with an estimation of over 13 million head of cattle and abundant fertile soil, agriculture and agri-business were among the lucrative investment sectors that could be harnessed into profitable businesses.
“Abundant land, water and massive unmet local and regional demand create opportunities in all areas of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
“This combination, created commercial opportunities in a wide range of crops including but not limited to cereals, oilseeds, sugar, horticulture and floriculture, coffee, tea and other specialty crops such as gum,” he said.
Most of South Sudan’s mineral wealth was not yet tapped, Akuong said. “Currently, it is believed that less than 50 per cent of suspected oil reserves in South Sudan are yet to be exploited”, he said.
Botswana’s Minister of Trade and Industry, Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, reiterated that a strong partnership between the Botswana private sector and South Sudan government would culminate in immense benefit for the two countries.
“I am aware that it is also in your best interest to see business relationships growing between South Sudan and Botswana and I am confident that after this session, we will see those business partnerships being established by some of the companies”, she said.
Makgato-Malesu further encouraged business people to invest in the new country adding government was committed to facilitate their interests in South Sudan.
Some local business people complained that it was difficult to obtain a VISA to visit South Sudan.
Botswana is also considering exporting labour to South Sudan, with unemployed teachers likely to be the first professionals sent to Africa’s newest country.
Education Minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi said by helping South Sudan in areas such as education, Botswana would be creating opportunities for locals, especially unemployed teachers.
Recently, Botswana lifted visa restrictions on South Sudanese citizens intending to travel to Botswana with effect from May 10, 2013 provided their passports are lawfully issued and valid for at least 12 months.
Botswana was among the African countries that recognised South Sudan’s independence, when the latter seceded from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011, as part of the 2005 peace deal.
Another delegation from South Sudan, in December last year, paid a week-long visit to Botswana as part of efforts to promote stronger ties between the two countries.