Latest News Southern Sudan set to be new frontier for business
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Jan 27, 2011 - 6:01:48 AM
Southern Sudan set to be new frontier for business
From David McKenzie, CNNc/div>
"First in is always great, because you can always leverage that position of first in. It helps win the hearts and minds of the consumers when you're first in."
While there is plenty of hope for the future, foreign companies may have to build even the most fundamental parts of the economy.
In Southern Sudan, most people can't read and write. Few have any skills and there is little infrastructure.
The workforce is plagued by absenteeism and getting parts and maintaining them can be a headache. When it comes to running a brewery, everything but the water needs to be imported.
But African investors, at least, are sensing a business opportunity.
"I certainly think there is a lot of interest already," says Zach Vertin, an analyst from International Crisis group.
"It may take some time for a broader pool of investors for interest to take hold.
"We have already seen huge investment from the region; Ugandans are driving cars and building houses, Eritreans are opening businesses, Kenyans are developing new business plans together with South Sudan, so it may start from the region."
Oil is the biggest asset in Sudan, providing more than 90% of revenue. But economists believe it's not enough to build an economy from scratch.
"The government has a very good investment-promotion act," says Alsworth-Elvey.
"They have an investment-friendly taxation act, but more importantly they understand they have to broaden their base of revenue and not solely rely on oil. So they created a great environment for investment in any sector here."
Diana Hassan was trained as a chemical engineer in the UK. The brewery poached her for its head of quality control when she made a trip home.
"I needed to contribute to my own society," she says.
"I needed to give back what they have given into me, because I left when I was very young. So I felt that it would be helpful for me to come back, to be part of the developing society."
While most investors are waiting to see what happens before they jump in, there is optimism that they will come.
"It's not every day you see a new country," says Bizmark Roma, SSBL's brew master.