The oil and gas sector is one of the most important sectors of South Sudan’s economy, contributing to about 90 percent of revenues and almost all exports, according to World Bank.

Despite its fragility, and underdevelopment, recent developments have seen African oil rich countries become a frontier for global oil and gas production as the west turn to Africa for these resources as the Russia-Ukraine war continues to disrupt oil chains.

South Sudan is no exception, as it continues to reposition itself as a gateway to east African energy development. However this will require massive investment in infrastructure, as explained to me by Akol Miyen Kuol an ex BBC columnist and analyst in all matters South Sudan.

Pauline: The oil and gas sector checks in as one of the most crucial sectors in South Sudan and contributes nearly 75% of the GDP. Looking back to five or 10 years ago, has there been growth overtime?

Akol: Revenue from oil is about 90% but because of war, the percentage has gradually dropped due to the war that broke out in 2013. In actual fact the people of South Sudan are hardly benefiting from the revenues from money up to now so that’s why it’s very important that stability is restored in the country so that the oil and gas sector can be developed to truly benefit it’s people.

Pauline: Aside the political instability are there other factors leading to the slow development of Juba’s oil and gas sector?

Akol: In spite of South Sudan being a nation blessed with huge resources like fertile land for agriculture and having huge oil deposits, the country still faces a lot of challenges. Infrastructure is one of the major problems in South Sudan, the roads are not well developed, so this affects the movement of people and goods from one state to another. To connect all South Sudan’s 10 states plus the three administrative areas becomes very difficult. South Sudan being a landlocked country also creates the challenge of it not having a port; it highly depends of Sudan’s Port Sudan. Pipelines are yet to be constructed because of the conflicts that keep recurring in the country

Pauline: You speak of other parts of the economy like agriculture; is it time for South Sudan to diversify to reach great heights?

Akol: Yes, I think it is time our people diversify into sectors like tourism, agriculture and other areas like fisheries and livestock keeping. The country needs to realize that it can’t fully rely on oil, other parts need to be exploited for more economic growth.

Pauline: I have been reading through South Sudan’s Petroleum act of 2012 that gives the ministry of petroleum the power to implement the government policies in relation to the oil and gas sector. Are these policies in place bringing change to the oil sector in South Sudan?

Akol: Well, the government has been taking on major milestones with President Salva Kiir spearheading some of these discussions and implementing most of these policies and so far impact is being felt across board. With deals and ground work beginning gradually.

Pauline: Is the private sector involved in growth and development of the national oil and gas sector in South Sudan?

Akol: No, not fully as of yet. Most of these projects are undertaken by government companies like the Nile Petroleum Corporation as most of the oil rich blocks are yet to be explored. The insecurity issue has slowed down the exploration mostly. Most private companies are hoping that the future will be brighter seeing that the period for the interim government will expire in early February 2023 and there is hope that a more stable and democratic government will take over. Most companies only operate in the capital Juba currently and not in 10 states and three administrative areas that are needed for the economy to improve.

Pauline: What would you tell an investor or an international company willing to come and invest in the oil and gas sector in South Sudan?

Akol: Come one, come all, South Sudan is more stable now. The government and the people of South Sudan have not lost hope. Peace and stability is being restored in the country for business activities to take place.

Pauline: Can Africa ever build a sustainable energy sector?

Akol: Yes Africa can build a successful and sustainable energy sector but first it needs to fight corruption above everything else. Africa can actually sustain itself and provide for other nations especially now that there is an energy crises due to the Russia- Ukraine stalemate. Also Africa needs to take lessons from other countries that have sustainably produced and sold to other countries of the world.

Pauline: How would you describe Africa’s oil and gas industry in the next five years in one minute or less?

Akol: A promising future lies ahead. If peace and stability are constant while corruption and other vices are kept at bay, Africa can reach its full potential especially in oil and gas.

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