South Sudan, Ethiopia ponder infrastructural development to boost trade

South Sudan, Ethiopia ponder infrastructural development to boost trade
South Sudan is in talks to connect South Sudan to fibre optic from Djibouti and access the port from transportation of goods.

Ethiopia and South Sudan have set sights on infrastructure to spur economic growth with the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) being the target of the initiative. 

During the launch of the Green Legacy Initiative Project by the Ethiopian Embassy at Multi-Purpose Training Centre, the National Minister for Youth and Sports, Albino Bol Dhieu, said the Vice President for Infrastructure Cluster, Taban Deng Gai had signed an agreement with the Ethiopian government for construction of roads linking the two countries.

Bol argued that the road network would facilitate the transportation of oil products and other major exports to wider markets in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and beyond, in a bid to strengthen the economy.

He said the agreement that the vice president signed was on the construction of the road running from Gambella to Upper Nile and then to Bahr El Ghazal.  

“This will have a direct impact on our economic status because we have now the refinery in Upper Nile, but it is overloaded, due to a lack of roads,’’ he said.  

“We are not able to export the refined oil. And I believe with the road that will be going to Addis, we will be able to reach out to the other countries like Djibouti, Kenya and other countries will be easily reachable.”

He urged the Ethiopian government to focus on bilateral relations with South Sudan to unlock the potential of the two countries when the two countries exchange labour, and trade in resources with each other.

“I believe South Sudan will change and we can feed the whole of Africa because we have a fertile land, we have fish, we have 45 million herds of cattle,” he explained.

“Ethiopia and Egypt used to bring meat from Brazil, and Argentina, a distance of 45 days shipping. [But] what if we do all these projects here in South Sudan? You can take our meat, giving us hard currency (which) will reduce prices in our markets.”

The Ethiopian Ambassador to South Sudan, Nebil Mahdi, said the two countries should embark on robust economic integration through security stabilisation, and uninterrupted mobility of people, goods and services.

“We should build up our joint efforts in the areas of road infrastructure. The road project from Pagak, Palogue, Malakal…Boma, Raad, is a good start in this regard,” said the Ambassador.

“The time has come to give a better chance to our youth, for common growth and development. We should seriously start to look into how the huge South Sudan oil potential feeds the energy demand of the Ethiopian economy,” Amb Mahdi added. 

Initiative made

In September 2022, President Salva Kiir directed VP Taban to hold discussions with Djibouti and Ethiopian governments on possible ways of accessing Djibouti port.

Taban revealed that there were already ongoing talks on how to connect South Sudan to fibre optic from Djibouti.

 “The Vice President explained that areas of Bahr El Ghazal region are closer to Djibouti Port than Mombasa Port. He added that the road is important for the import and export of South Sudan resources to the International Market, as it will also serve the oil fields in Bentiu.”

During the closing ceremony of the South Sudan Oil and Power conference and exhibition, minister for petroleum, Puot Kang Chol said the government had signed an agreement with the government of Djibouti so that oil products could be transported through that port.

The minister noted that the distance from Djibouti to the oilfields in Upper Nile, Unity State and Jonglei State was close compared to Lamu and Port Sudan.