INTERVIEW-S.Sudan to revamp factories shuttered by war-official
Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:39pm GMT
* Country eager to reduce dependence on imports, oil
* Independence has sparked investor interest, official says
* Many South Sudanese optimistic after independence
By Alexander Dziadosz
JUBA, Nov 17 (Reuters) - South Sudan plans to invite investors to revamp
about eight food, cement and textile plants shut down during a decades-long
civil war, in a push to create jobs and reduce dependence on imports, an
investment official said on Thursday.
South Sudan declared independence in July and is eager to draw in foreign
investors to help build an economy devastated during one of Africa's longest
and deadliest conflicts.
It also wants to diversify its economy away from oil, which provides some 98
percent of state revenues, and reduce its heavy dependence on goods shipped
in from abroad, particularly from its former civil war enemy, Sudan.
Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Undersecretary Elizabeth Manoa
Majok said the country aimed to seek bids on the first factory, an edible
oils plant in the country's Lakes state, in the first quarter of next year.
"We are receiving a report (on the factory) at the end of this year, so the
first quarter of the year we want to engage the potential investors in that
area," she told Reuters in an interview, adding it may be tendered as a
The factory dates back to 1948, British colonial rule in Sudan, and covered
about 56,000 square metres, information provided by the ministry said.
Civil war waged for all but a few years since 1955 has left South Sudan with
an almost complete lack of infrastructure and industry, aside from oil. The
country has few paved roads outside the capital, Juba, and large parts
become inaccessible by ground transport during the rainy season.
Often described as one of the world's least-developed nations, it has high
levels of poverty, illiteracy and maternal mortality rates. Hospitals and
schools are scarce.
Majok said South Sudan had seen a surge of investor interest since
independence, although a lack of infrastructure, dependence on imports, a
lack of local training and other issues still posed deep challenges.
"That is why we are tackling the defunct factories. If they are to come onto
the scene, it will reduce a lot of imports. We are actually channeling a lot
of our hard currency outside," she said.
Majok said she was unable to give an indication of amount of investment the
country was looking for, or the number of jobs it hoped to create, until the
completion of assessments by external consultants.
After the edible oils factory, the government plans to develop a cement
factory in Eastern Equatoria state, aiming to find an investor within 10
Two textile factories would follow, and the remainder -- which include sugar
and canning -- would be assessed afterwards.
South Sudan split off into a separate country after voting for independence
from Sudan in a January referendum promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended
the civil war.
One of the main motivations for the former rebel movement was the complaint
they had been economically marginalised by Khartoum.
"It (independence) will allow us to decide our own destiny, it will allow us
to control our resources. Because the resources of the south were being used
to develop the north. That was a fact," Majok said. (Editing by Sophie
S.Sudan says Khartoum backing rebels with artillery
Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:43pm GMT
(Adds northern denial, U.N. report)
By Hereward Holland
JUBA Nov 17 (Reuters) - South Sudan accused Sudan on Thursday of supplying
artillery to support a cross-border attack by "mercenaries" on its
oil-producing Upper Nile state a day earlier, and called on the United
Nations to investigate.
Sudan's armed forces dismissed the charge and repeated it did not back
rebels and had not launched any attacks on South Sudan's side of the border.
Border violence has raised tension between the old civil war foes, with both
nations regularly trading accusations of supporting insurgencies in each
other's territory since South Sudan's secession in July.
"These are mercenaries being trained and armed by Khartoum," South Sudan's
government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Reuters by telephone.
"These militias come and they (Khartoum) support them with artillery. They
have crossed the border."
The charge that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) were actively involved in
Wednesday's raid is likely to test relations already strained by the bombing
of Yida refugee camp in South Sudan last week that was witnessed by a
Khartoum denied responsibility for the air strike.
Philip Aguer, spokesman for the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army, said three
attackers were killed in the assault on the Kuek area before a retreat back
across the border. He said two SAF tanks gave support to the raid.
"The tanks were shelling SPLA positions using 100mm mortar," he said by
telephone. "This is the first time that their involvement (in the border
unrest) has become more obvious."
"The mercenaries are from South Sudan, who are recruited and under the
payment of Khartoum."
Sudanese army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid dismissed the accusation. "This
information is wrong. We don't support rebels or mercenaries in South
Sudan," he told Reuters.
In a separate incident on Wednesday, rebel forces aligned to renegade South
Sudanese general George Athor killed nine people, including six civilians,
during an attack on Atar in the state of Jonglei, Aguer said.
He said Sudanese Antonov planes also dropped three bombs deep inside South
Sudanese territory on Wednesday. No casualties were reported from the air
strike on Kino in Raja county in Western Bahr el Ghazal state at 3.30 p.m.
(12:30 GMT), he said.
"For all these attacks, including the bombardment, we request the U.N. to
come and verify all these violations and the involvement of the government
of Sudan in destabilising and causing insecurity in South Sudan."
The United Nations said it struggled to support the 20,000 people residing
in the bombed Yida Camp with food because of recent mining in the area.
"Food rations were delivered on 10 November. However, the quantity was only
enough to feed the displaced population for one day," the U.N. Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report.
South Sudan broke off into a separate country after voting for independence
in a January referendum that was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended
decades of civil war.
An estimated 2 million people died in that conflict. (Additional reporting
by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Alexander Dziadosz and Mark Heinrich)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Thu Nov 17 2011 - 18:07:55 EST