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Enough of being rich, yet living poor. By: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.
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Jan 12, 2010 - 7:45:18 AM

Enough of being rich, yet living poor.

 

By: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, MD.

 

The Sudan is currently Africa’s   third leading Oil producer,   after Nigeria and Angola, with more than 85% of these Oil reserves     in fields deep inside    the war ravaged South Sudan thus making it both    a success and a failure story.

 

Coming out of a long war and completely out of touch with the complications of the Oil industry the South Sudan settled for 50% of the Oil revenues    from its fields as agreed in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that provides for a wealth and power sharing between the former foes.

 

Now five years down the agreement, the South is gradually waking up to the bitter facts that its peace partner was far away from being transparent on the Oil revenues, and while having no share in the Oil produced in the north, the North was also cheating with the South’s share.

 

With all its flaws, anyway the CPA    arrangement is about to run out on 31st July 2011, and thereafter South Sudan which depends on the Oil revenues for 98% of its budget will be faced with a situation yet to be decided.

 

Should it be true that the vast majority of the Sudanese Oil rightly exists in the South    then with any proper future management of this industry, South Sudan can still remain    amongst the leading producers of this black gold wealth.

 

Unfortunately there is a sad part to the story, and    South Sudan despite all the huge Oil reserves is the most underdeveloped place in the world. It is enough to note that after two decades of war, barely any infrastructure stands in place.

 

These days, South Sudan    has again been running news headlines. It is portrayed as the most insecure place in Africa, second only to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), especially after it dwarfed the death tolls in Darfur throughout the year 2009 with 2, 500 deaths and 350, 000 internally displaced.

 

An additional truth is that south Sudan   also hits headlines for the most exotic diseases   (guinea worm, river blindness, the nodding disease , Kala Azar only to mention a few), all of which are preventable. In this setting it is, ‘if you miss the bullets you may not miss the diseases’. This however is a nightmare of the rural communities, but in big towns like Juba where the big sharks patrol the waters; with few sips of beer everything can look rosy.

 

There is a high maternal mortality (a young girl is more likely to die while giving birth than go on to finish school), absent clean drinking water and of course the much talked about inter-tribal fighting.

 

Since the signing of the CPA in 2005, south Sudan was quickly crammed with tens of non governmental organisations (NGOs), who provide for basic services    like primary health care, water, education and the provision of food aid.

 

This huge presence of foreign NGOs on the ground has both its pros and cons. And it is    true that when people are poor they also become very vulnerable to external interventions that unfortunately do not always go well.

 

Many of the rural population are practically depending on these many foreign NGOs for almost all of the basic services mentioned above. This though reliefs the needy, however it renders the national government to look very impotent in the eyes of its own citizens.

 

Chronic dependency is in itself a sustaining force for chronic poverty. If we are sincere with ourselves, we would justly testify to the fact that a hungry person who struggles through poverty to provide for his/her food by working for it, is more likely to come out of the poverty than the one who chooses to beg or survives on alms that comes from the good wishers.

 

There is a natural theory that our needs remain to be the motivating force for our endeavours. As such should our needs be taken care of by the so-called donors, we will be left without any motivating force to work for ourselves. This shows us clearly that, though the outside donations are useful to help us in our immediate dire needs, they easily become counterproductive due to their addictive nature that eventually helps to create a vicious cycle of poverty, dependency and poverty.

 

The government of south Sudan that was quick to slam the reports of the 10 NGOs on the deteriorating situations in region, should understand that these organisations gained their legitimacy to   south Sudanese affairs through the huge sums of the monies that they pour into the region. If you accept their money, be prepared to accept their opinions about you! (Lesson one).

 

“Its not all doom and gloom”, said Dr. Ann Itto, the SPLM deputy secretary general for the southern sector. But was Dr. Itto    ever expecting any praises from those NGOs, remains the question. Anyway to be fair to her, she should better look for those consolations from her constituency in the coming elections.  

 

Now it is the same NGOs    accused of over-reacting   to the insecurities in South Sudan, who have been assigned by the British government to administer the 54million   GBP donated by Her Majesty’s   PM, Gordon Brown, in a bit to rescue the situation lest the region slide into anarchy and lawlessness. And by accepting this money, we are also endorsing the very reports that our officials are calling controversial.

 

At the present crossroads, the government of South Sudan (GoSS),  that has entirely depended on the Oil revenues MUST urgently wake up to address how it expects to survive once the CPA expires. It is already on record that the Oil sharing protocol between the North and the South has been tempered with as the National Congress Party (NCP) of President al Bashir has been discovered to have cheated by under reporting the Oil sales.

 

The little, little monies that flow into the GoSS treasury from the alms that it receives should not drag it into delaying the urgently needed arrangement for the future mechanism to be adopted once the CPA is put behind us.

 

It is also a common knowledge that the GoSS is already behind by some 200 millions of dollars in arrears that Khartoum has yet to pay. And given the way the NIF/NCP negotiates, it would be wiser to start immediate efforts to recover these arrears as well as establish the future of the Oil industry before we finely declare Sudan as two separate States in 2011.

 

There is no way that the North can be trusted, yet there is an urgent need to call all the members of the IGAD, the troika (USA, UK, and Norway) and the international community to immediately embark on brokering yet another agreement for post CPA Sudan which ever way the referendum results go, as we do not want to wake up on the 1st of August 2011 to an empty coffer.

 

This is our true story, that although we are known to have a lot of wealth, we are also very poor. We have the Nile, yet we cannot grow enough food, nor do we have enough fish for every one. We have the Oil reserves, yet we have to survive on hand outs. We have a land yet we are in our millions scattered all over the world.

 

The curse is so much! We have herds of cattle, yet we kill one another because we want to take away what is not ours. We all have beautiful and fertile ancestral lands, yet we go about creating havoc in other parts.   We fought fiercely for two decades under the banner of South Sudan, and yet we are still far from being a nation.

 

Our story is along one, and we will have to put up with many frustrations, because of the way, we refuse to get prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Now we have been kept as the receiving end in the Oil revenue protocol, when the Oil being divided is none but our own Oil.

 

As long as we are where we are now, we need to pursue more in the Oil industry. We must right now get more involved in the Oil industry and get to know all the nitty gritty of the business, otherwise we will cease to exist as a nation.

 

By nitty gritty, we should have prepared and trained enough geologists petroleum industry engineers, petroleum technicians, petroleum economists, sociologists and even petroleum politicians. This trade is a big one, and can only be tackled well by having our big boys ready for the job.

 

All those who read the report compiled by the “Global Witness”, should take time to re-study that paper. If we want to survive into the next generation, we must religiously get involved in every bit of any future agreement on the Oil deals.

 

Though for the immediate future, we will continue to use the Port Sudan route of export, however to be practically independent from the Khartoum government that we all know very well, South Sudan MUST start building its own refineries in the south while at the same time constructing a major pipeline to Mombasa in the East African Coast regardless of the costs.

 

Juba must start establishing its own Oil connections and dealings, for given our bitter experiences with our fellows in the North; their attitude to constantly cheat the South has developed over the years into a concrete behavioural pattern. Continuing to depend on the North for anything means continuing living under their bondage.

 

Everybody looks at us and says, “You are indeed rich, but you are also very poor”. Stories of money made from Africa’s natural resources are many, however the success stories are very few, and I only have Batswana in mind.   

 

We have an opportunity to choose between being another Nigeria, Congo, Angola and the rest BUT in case we are serious, we can choose to go the Batswana’s way. Our destiny is in our hands.

 

However unless we learn some basic facts, our toil will never be rewarding. The simple secrecy to success is still the obvious fact that success only comes to those who look for it.

 

Wealth can be made out of anything as long as you can work it up in your mind. Do we not know of someone who went and spent all the riches they inherited from rich parents or relatives? It is the same thing, and feeble minded nations can waste whatever huge natural resources that exit in their country.

 

To have a real control over our natural resources we need to liberate our minds from the mental slavery and psychological bondage. We have to revert from developing into another consumerism economy; otherwise even if we are to dig Oil pits in all the households in South Sudan, the wealth we generate will still be wasted on promoting other people’s economies.

 

Let us also not forget the fact that agriculture remains to be the backbone to our economy. As such how much Oil we produce, we need to grow our own food. The Oil money should be wisely used to develop our agricultural sector, and unless we control what we eat we cannot defend our independency.

 

Furthermore, in order to escape from being preyed by the so many irregularities that surround the Oil business, we MUST diversify our source of revenues, (taxes, customs …etc), far ahead of time and before the north eventually decides to strangle the flow of the oil revenue.

Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, M.B, B.Ch, D.R.H, MD. The Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at either [email protected] or [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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