Southern Sudan is a new country (official name not decided yet) with an overwhelming majority deciding to secede from Sudan. According to the final count, announced in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, 98.83 percent of the more than 3.8 million registered voters in southern Sudan chose to separate from the north. In many parts of the country the vote was over 99 percent.
My good friend Abraham Akoi returned back to Southern Sudan and is working at the Ministry of Finance. Salva Kiir Mayardit, south Sudan's president, tapped Abraham to become the deputy director of administration and finance at the ministry. He argues: “Our political and financial institutions are weak. Civil liberties are not strong. There are no good hospitals and no good supply of medicines.And only 15 percent of south Sudanese know how to read and write. That's not very good for democracy."
An interesting question is that how the new country is preparing to spur economic growth and make it investor-friendly after over two decades of brutal civil war in the oil rich region? A number of development and multilateral agencies are working to help it better human development and business climate. The WB’s investment climate blog lists the initiatives taken so far in easing business environment.
- Legal framework. Eight laws have been enacted enabling business entry, operations, and exit. Another nine that allow basic registration, contract, agency, property rights, and insolvency are ready to enact.
- Business entry. The business registry was strengthened and registration reinstated following suspension in December 2005. Businesses can incorporate within a day. About 8,000 businesses—most domestic and small or medium-size—have been registered since July 2006. A business-registration campaign resulted in an additional 1,100 businesses within the first six months of 2010.
- Investment policy and promotion. The new Investment Promotion Act 2009 established the Southern Sudan Investment Authority, resulting in the targeted, proactive pursuit of potential investors and re-investors.
- Public-private dialogue. The establishment of the Southern Sudan Business Forum enables consensual policy development. Through its working groups, the forum has helped revise the Micro Finance Policy being developed by the Bank of Southern Sudan and drafted and promulgated the Investment Promotion Act 2009.
- Trade logistics. As a result of improvements in the Customs Chamber since 2008, Sudan has significantly reduced the number of days traders need to complete import-export procedures. The time needed to import was reduced from 83 days in 2007 to 46 days in 2010, and the time to export from 56 days in 2007 to 32 days in 2010. The 2009 Customs Amendment Act was approved by the Council of Ministers. The customs clearing system has been automated and this will lead to even greater time and cost reductions. The system links 21 regional offices and the Tax Chamber, and it allows for electronic approvals and the submission of electronic manifests.
A lot of work needs to be done. And, I hope that with dedicated youths like Abraham, it will be done soon.