Push to incorporate LAPSSET in Vision 2040 intensify

Push to incorporate LAPSSET in Vision 2040 intensify
LAPSSET Project at the port of Lamu, Kenya. [Courtesy]

There is a renewed push from South Sudan development partners to have the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor incorporated into the country’s 2040 development plan.

Adeyinka Adeyemi, senior advisor of African Trade at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, told journalists that they are working to integrate LAPSSET into the South Sudan national strategic plan so that it can be budgeted for and monitored.

Adeyemi was spoke in Juba after a meeting with government institutions to review the state of the LAPSSET project between South Sudan government representatives and a delegation from the United Nations, the African Union and Ethiopian representatives.

The meeting is supposed to lay the groundwork for the upcoming third ministerial meeting in Juba.

“I am pleased to learn that South Sudan has a 2040 development plan. This is fantastic. We have to find a way to integrate LAPSSET into it so that it can be budgeted for and monitored and the road authority can also be enabled to do the work that it is set to do for the benefit of everyone in South Sudan,” said Adeyemi

“From my interactions since we came here, many senior officials within ministries are not even aware that you have the development plan 2040. Why are those who are unaware of the plan unaware? If they don’t know, how can we have a united mind and objective in terms of perusing and implementing programs,” Adeyemi told journalists.

He has requested assistance in raising awareness among South Sudanese leaders about the 2040 development plan, how it affects them as ministries, and what their role is in activating and operationalizing it.

The LAPSSET team, led by Adeyemi, met with the South Sudan road authority and the ministries of transport, trade and industry, petroleum, finance, housing and urban planning. Officials, he claims, have expressed optimism and excitement about improving the country’s situation.

No funds for it

Kenyatta Warrille, the Executive Director of the South Sudan Road Authority, told journalists that the government has not set aside any funds for the implementation of the LAPSSET project in the country.

“We are still working on our budget. The budget for 2021 has almost been concluded. We are left with one month to face it out, and we have not started working on the budget for 2022-2023 yet. So, something is going to be fixed there. We haven’t had our shillings yet. Once our shillings are there, we will budget for it,” said Kenyatta.

According to Adeyemi, there have been calls from various quarters to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to assist the government of South Sudan in developing the private sector in the country by assisting women and youths.

The government requested that UNECA support them in developing an industrial plan that is consistent with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and green growth, similar to what UNECA accomplished for Nigeria.

The road in terms of the transportation master plan, notably for women and teenagers, is developing.

“South Sudan does not have a transport master plan. Therefore, you have all this in the inland river waterways. You have that good road that can be developed, but if you don’t have a plan, how do you know what to do first? How do you know what not to do or what to refrain from? So, we have been asked to help in that regard and we will see what to do,” Adeyemi assured the government of South Sudan.

Kenya and Ethiopia have completed part of their LAPSSET project, whereas South Sudan continues to struggle with the initiative’s implementation.

Adeyemi stated that if one country does not work on the project, the entire initiative will be a waste of time for the region, and he called for the project to be implemented quickly, particularly in South Sudan, to ensure that the project’s purpose is met as planned.

“Our mission is to get South Sudan up to the level of Kenya and Ethiopia since otherwise, the entire LAPSSET project will be a waste of time. You can’t just cross the border and keep going. You must connect everything. Countries must connect for us to achieve our goals,” he said.

Once the project is done, LAPSSET will be connected to Central Africa by a land bridge and from there to ECOWS and then to the Kazungula Bridge in Botswana, which connects four nations.