With the Sudan referendum concluded it appears as though South Sudan will secede from the North and be Africa’s newest country.
South Sudan which is where 80% of Sudan’s oil comes from is a region that is unfortunately totally underdeveloped. This is as a result of a messed up colonial legacy bestowed by the Brits and the two civil wars in a span of 50 years against the Arab North who look at the Southerners as second class citizens.
There is no doubt that South Sudan deserve their freedom and as I pay tribute to the soldiers who have spent 20 – 50 years fighting I also pray that your efforts may not have been in vain. I have also been quite impressed by South Sudanese musicians and sportsmen who have taken the South cause to a global audience. Emmanuel Jal stands out with his “We want peace campaign” that has presidents and world leaders rapping! How I wish that our musicians and sports people can borrow a leaf!
Kenya has for a long time offered support to the South. This support has not only been a neighbourly gesture but also a strategic plan. OIL makes the world go round and Kenya and Kenyans want a piece of the South Sudan oil.
After the peace agreement was signed, Kenyan government and Kenyan entrepreneurs stormed Juba, the capital of South Sudan looking for opportunities. There are success stories coupled with horror stories which incidentally the government turns a blind eye so as not to upset the South Sudan government. There is also the mega-billion government investment on Lamu port which is been constructed to tap into the South Sudan market.
During the referendum, Kenyan media went overboard with their coverage of Sudan. It was jesters in social media termed it – The Showdown in Sudan. This I felt was at the expense of Kenyan stories and also the journalists did not give in-depth analysis with a Kenyan slant i.e. how does the referendum and possible split affect Kenya?
Speaking to a friend who lives and works in Khartoum I was left with an uneasy feeling that Kenya may be the joker in the pack regarding the South Sudan issue.
Apparently China has a hold of the oil wells in Sudan and Kenya can only hope for leftovers. The pipeline from Juba to Lamu is still on paper so for a very long time the pipeline from Juba to Khartoum is how oil will flow out of South Sudan. This means that Kenyans dream of oil next door will remain just a dream for a while.
In as far as entrepreneurship is concerned; Ugandans and South Africans are also angling for a piece of the pie. Ugandans allegedly has an upper hand since its rebel’s forces roam the land and extort money from entrepreneurs form other countries. South Africa also has a lot of government officials in Juba facilitating its entrepreneur’s efforts.
Kenya which is the country that has offered the South the most support and which is where the peace agreement was signed on the other hand is still trying to figure out how to tackle South Sudan. Unfortunately by the time our government comes up with a foreign policy that sets forth its agenda in South Sudan we shall be too late.
Yes, the gutsy entrepreneurs, the multi-national companies and corrupt Kenya government officials are making a killing from South Sudan but it will be awhile or maybe even never before the ordinary Kenyan sees returns from the goodwill extended to the South Sudan over the years.
GOD BLESS KENYA!