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S. Sudan to woo investors, donors at reconstruction forum in Kenya

4/1/2005 11:34am

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31, 2005 (PANA) -- The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and a travel and logistics firm, Bread of Life Africa (BOLA) are preparing to organise the first ever investment conference to mobilise potential investors for the war-ravaged Southern Sudan.

BOLA Managing Director Andrew Muigai said here Thursday the meeting planned for 12 May will give East African business people an opportunity to interact with SPLM officials and listen to possible investment opportunities available in the country.

"The expectations is that people would learn about trade and investment in Southern Sudan, the country is coming out of war and people need to know what to expect in the future," Muigai told PANA in a telephone interview.

The travel and logistics company with a clear working knowledge of the situation in the war-scarred Southern Sudan, a vast region the size of the three East African nations of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, has been mobilising volunteers to work in the region.

John Garang's former rebel SPLA/M and the Islamic-dominated Northern government in Khartoum signed a peace agreement in Nairobi 9 January to end a 21-year long civil war.

The investment conference will discuss the key points of the peace deal, which gives the Southerners semi-autonomy in running their state affairs and a huge stake in the control of the oil-wells also found in the region.

"We would discuss investment and trade opportunities in Southern Sudan and the challenges facing businesses in the south," Muigai said.

The meeting will also consolidate pledges expected to be made at a donors conference in Oslo, Norway, where authorities in northern and the southern Sudan would be tabling a plea for US$7 billion to support peace building activities.

"The donors are necessary for this meeting's success, there are things which businesses need to effectively operate such as roads, electricity and water, all these cannot be provided by anybody except a government, which is why we want the donors," Muigai explained.

BOLA was approached by the SPLM to organize the conference to be convened by the Africa Point. Recently, Southern Sudan has been attracting several investors, mainly from Germany although World Bank officials say stability is crucial to investment sustainability.

"We will discuss the role to be played by regional investors in promoting economic development in Sudan, participants will interact with key decision-makers," Muigai said.

SPLM Commissioner for Commerce and Supply Turban Deng would lead a team of powerful decision-makers from the former separatists. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is among the leading donors expected at the conference.

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