Workshop: IGC South Sudan Launch

Our newest IGC office was established in South Sudan in May 2012 staffed with an Economist and Deputy Country Directory permanently located in Juba.

South Sudan is a state still in conflict. Border tensions and the struggle over oil rents have fostered cross-border raids, Sudanese bombings of refugee camps, and reprisal incursions. The decision in February to stop pumping oil, which generates 98% of government revenue and is the country’s only export, has plunged the country into economic crisis. Sporadic Sudanese air attacks on the South have caused numerous civilian casualties; South Sudanese then militarily seized the control of Heglig in the disputed border with the Sudan, and subsequently withdrew under heavy international criticism. Since that time, several meetings have occurred between North and South, an oil deal as been signed but is conditioned on a security agreement. Meanwhile, Nuer-Murle tribal conflict festers in the northern part of the country, leaving hundreds dead in this year. Against this backdrop, the new state struggles to establish the institutions of government.

The IGC will help in three broad areas: responding to crisis, managing natural resources for growth, and in addressing isolation, economic diversification and job creation. The remainder of this year will focus on the first of these – even as we begin to lay the foundation for a more robust program in 2013 should circumstances permit. These circumstances include, first, developing a relationship of trust that facilitates the emergence of an effective demand for IGC services, and, second, some resolution of the oil crisis that will permit the government to shift its attention to medium-term issues. The economic team in the government is new to governing and lacks technical human resources and the institutional underpinnings of legally established norms and practices. Its experience in governing, economic policy making, and dealing with aid organisations is limited. Because of these factors and the all-consuming nature of the crisis itself, the absorptive capacity for lengthy studies is constrained. Therefore the IGC strategy is to build the program flexibly, focusing on easily digested policy briefs, and conferences that permit interaction with policy makers and the broader private community.

A first workshop to promote the need for evidence-based policy making in South Sudan and to inform local stakeholders of the services offered by the IGC was organised along these lines in early August 2012. A closed workshop for government officials – to allow an open discussion – was followed by a public workshop with the same program ‘From Crisis to Opportunity’. Two invited experts were key speakers at the workshops and discussed with government officials in bilateral senior-level meetings. The Acting Deputy Executive Director and Research Network Director of the IGC, Adnan Khan, presented ‘Evidence-based Policy Formulation for Economic Growth’ discussing relevant IGC projects from other countries. After introductory remarks by the Presidential Advisor Aggrey Tisa Sabuni, Adnan Khan identified challenges in South Sudan and linked them to similar situations in other IGC countries. In examples, he discussed the contribution of IGC to solve these challenges.

The second expert, Alan Gelb, former World Bank Chief Economist for Africa and now Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, distinguished three key phases for resource management in South Sudan. With many examples drawn from his experience in other countries, he characterised in detail the three phases as managing without oil, transitioning to oil flows and post-oil management and development. A lively discussion with the audience elaborated many issues and also touched upon inclusive governance, corruption, national identity, migration and reform. The Presidential Advisor concluded the discussion with an emphasis on opportunities resulting from the current crisis. The Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports, Cirino Hiteng Ofuho, closed the workshop with insightful comments on the presentations and discussions.

The workshops were interspersed by networking events with government officials, NGOs and academics in South Sudan to stimulate further collaborations. An additional presentation by Alan Gelb about resource management at the Technical Economist meeting offered an opportunity to the technical staff in Juba to learn about uncertainties of discoveries of resources. These activities resonated well with the government and other stakeholders in South Sudan demanding a continuation of such events. In September, the former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Botswana, Keith Jefferis, will visit the Bank of South Sudan for an IGC workshop about monetary policy. An analysis of the conditions to join the EAC and its impact has been requested by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment and will facilitate a workshop later in 2012. A labour market study for the Ministry of Labour and Public Services will shed light on labour regulations to ensure participation of domestic labour in the economy.

A more detailed summary of the workshops is available upon request from the IGC office in South Sudan (south.sudan@theigc.org).

The IGC team is formed by Richard Newfarmer as Acting Country Director, Peter Biar Ajak as Deputy Country Director, and Utz J. Pape as Economist in Juba. The IGC London Hub provides its assistance through a Hub Economist.