Last year, the humanitarian community realized their lofty dreams for South Sudan: self-determination and independence. But unfortunately their dreams didn’t do anything to solve the problems holding back Africa’s newest splinter state. From the WSJ:
The oil shutdown has hammered the Sudanese pound, now trading at about six to the dollar, compared with 3.55 before South Sudan suspended crude-oil exports. The South Sudanese government declines to disclose its current level of foreign-exchange reserves, but the World Bank estimates they may vanish as early as August.Without hard currency, South Sudanese businesses can’t pay foreign suppliers; telecommunication companies can’t import the equipment; and road builders can’t buy critical materials such as asphalt.
South Sudan’s outlook is about as bleak as that of its North Sudanese foe; ironically, this fact was the source of some hopes for cooperation between the two. The BBC reported that South Sudan made an offer to Khartoum Monday: $3 billion in compensation for lost oil revenue and payment of fees to transport oil through the North’s territory. In return, South Sudan would get its oil industry back online and would get negotiations to resolve its border dispute with the North.As expected, Omar al-Bashir’s government in Khartoum rejected the offer on Tuesday. Despite both countries’ need for peace and flowing oil, Khartoum refused to budge on its demands, which include a $36 per barrel oil transit fee (compared to the South’s latest offer of $9.10 per barrel). It is, in other words, a near-perfect lose-lose solution.Leadership like this is one of the principle reasons why both Sudans are among the most miserable and unhappy places on Planet Earth.