Saturday, March 28, 2009

South Sudan fetes historic beer

Southern Sudanese prepare for launch of production at south’s first commercial brewery since civil war.

More here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly endorses anti-corruption bill

The South Sudan legislative assembly has endorsed today the anti-corruption bill for the year 2009.

The speaker of the assembly James Wani Igga said the bill represents the second remarkable achievement by the assembly after the interim constitution.

He added that the bill will curb mounting corruption in southern Sudan.

The chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission Pauline Riak said in a press statement that the commission is to investigate and compile corruption cases and refer them to the prosecutor.

Answering a question from Miraya FM on whether the commission will look into earlier cases of alleged corruption in Southern Sudan before the bill was endorsed, Mrs. Pauline Riak ruled out any time limitations.

The report of the committee of the public account and legal affairs on the Anti-Corruption Commission bill was presented to the house by the chairperson of the Public Account Committee Dr Jimmy Wango.

The bill becomes a law when the President of the government of Southern Sudan signs it.


Here is some background on the Anti-Corruption Commission.

FEATURE-South Sudan brewery shows distance from Khartoum

A nice follow up on the Southern Sudan Beverages Limited brewery construction in Juba from Reuters' Skye Wheeler.

"It's a big step forward, a sign of development and shows confidence in the peace," the south's commerce ministry undersecretary John K. Panguir, told Reuters. "This is the one country, two systems in action."

More here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Business Monitor International report on Sudan

With so many Sudan 'expert analysts' floating around the web these these days, it's hard to throw a link and miss one. With Khartoum's savage treatment of Darfur and the subsequent ICC indictment of President Bashir, there's a limitless pool of opinions and prognostications to be found. Some free ( and worth every penny, like this), and some not-so-free.

A few products are available from 'professional analysts' on Sudan for a significant fee. One report I saw referenced in a recent article drew me to their website. Browsing through their product, I saw an executive summary that was, in my humble opinion, off the mark.

A few points:

The South is not engaged in a massive military buildup. It neither has the money, manpower, expertise, nor strategic plan to do so. When you see MiGs, Hinds, and other expensive military hardware gracing the tarmacs of Southern Sudan, this point is valid. Otherwise, if one is referring to the hijacked cargo destined for Kenya, but (mistakenly) rumored to be for Southern Sudan -- then think again. That rumor is simply not true.

Second: Both parties are cooperating with the Abyei process underway in the Hague. Both parties have publicly stated their satisfaction thus far. I have not been able to find evidence to the contrary.

Third: The summary completely misses (perhaps there is hope in the full report, but I wont spend $800 to find out) the economic implications of the ICC indictment of President Bashir. That gem has too many facets to completely and accurately describe. Right now, it is the 600-pound gorilla sitting in the room.

These are fundamental points I find hard to miss. Any serious and in-the-know analysis would know them.

Sudanic Magazine: Southern Sudan as an Investment Destination

Sudanic is a Sudanese-focused current events/politics and business magazine published every other month. It's got great production vales and has a good amount of fresh reporting, relevant commentary and an indigenous understanding of Sudanese culture. If in Southern Sudan, you can find the magazine at the larger book/magazine outlets. If you see it, grab a copy. You wont be disappointed.

Here's a recent article we've included in this month's Sudanic. Click on the images for a closer read. Enjoy.

Business Journal Africa article on Sudan

Looks like Business Journal Africa is off the web, otherwise I'd do a link to their article. That wont stop us from getting it to our dear readers, though. I've copied it to the post below.

A few small points of error in the article, and an unusual dancing around of the current foreign currency shortfalls, especially within the Government of Southern Sudan.

As some readers here may know, the central government in Khartoum has been withholding monthly oil dividends from the GOSS. Why? Because it is what they do. And, the low price of oil is severely cutting revenues (oil represents more than 80% of Khartoum's exports).

Never fear, however. GOSS is chasing down options and finding solutions in a responsible and thorough manner. More on this to come. The article leaves out a few points; namely that although the GOSS is having trouble finding cash right now, that does not mean that cash is lacking. It's there and those that supply it to the market (through banks and foreign currency exchangers) are really doing well -- if they can keep the foreign currency coming in.

Apart from this, we're starting to see an (anecdotal) loss of the Sudanese Pound to the Dollar. About 20-25% since the beginning of the year!

Now, here's the article. Click on the images to bring up a readable version.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The ICC: What do the Sudanese people think?

Given the tight controls of media and information in general in Khartoum, outside observers are forced to make their own conclusions about what the people think of their leadership and the ICC in particular.

In my conversations with both foreigners and Sudanese, these opinions vary dramatically. All of the outsiders' opinions, though of course not nearly as succinct or in contact with the realities as the Sudanese, have at least a kernel of truth to them.

There's an interesting Sudan Tribune article on the subject today that is absolutely worth a read. Though just a random "man-on-the-street" grab of opinions, it is quite telling. Read the article here.

My opinion, which I'll admit is simply one of many, is that the supporters of the regime are those whom rely on it for its largesse. With the pool of money shrinking, and the cost of support increasing with Sudan's inflation, there is a coming point when the regime will simply be unable to pay supporters to support it.

Here's some backgound observations on the economy in "the north": Since the late 80's and early 90's Sudan's independent upper and middle class have had their professions, assets and businesses either stripped, nationalized, radically devalued, or sidelined by government policies. The regime sought to stifle pockets of competition from political, economic, academic and professional circles and created an environment that made competitors dependent on party affiliation for jobs, economic opportunity or safety from military service that could be a death sentence. I've seen this first hand: businesses exhausted by lack of government 'permits' and competition by regime-affiliated companies, the middle class struggling to live on 1980's-level wages, and ever-dwindling avenues for private wealth development. It's evident that the productive classes of the society are being deliberately boxed-out and impoverished.

Jumping back to the ICC issue, I believe that the only life raft President Bashir can cling to now is nationalism. Nationalism, led by the party and its recipients, as a defense to this situation is going to have to be big, expensive, and kept at a fast jog -- in perpetuity. The regime uses rallies to demonstrate support. The bodies in the rallies are those of supporters from within the government and parastatal companies. If they are on the street dancing with the President, they aren't being productive. Can this task be borne by the regime? I don't believe so.

The fall back to this option with be the regime using the lash to keep its population in check. It does so to some degree now, but like the reliance on nationalism, that is usually to the massive detriment to the economy. Strikes, shunning by world markets, reliance on a single commodity for foreign currency inputs, economic sabotage and the typically poorly run parastatal organizations will cause the economic downturn to accelerate.

Lost government revenue, the high cost of a security/military apparatus fighting the population, and lost revenue to regime supporters, will eventually force regime leaders to make tough decisions. That will likely mean either putting President Bashir out to pasture and re-creating the political environment to allow economic breathing room, or simply sinking the whole ship of state.

Given the actions by the NCP in the past 20 years, I would not place a wager on which direction they will take.