The Revitalized Peace; New Hopes for Private Sector Development

Compiled by Simon Akuei Deng. The Secretary General for South Sudan Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.

The Revitalized Peace Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) creates a new dispensation to the populace, creating hope to the people of South Sudan and the region at large. Peace is like oxygen to human life and investment, doing business across the globe and specifically in the Republic of South Sudan requires a conducive environment where private and public enterprises thrive in peace and harmony. Peace is good all the time, and all the time, peace is good. Just as we usually say, God is good all the time.

When the peace was signed in Addis Ababa in 2018, the market reacted positively with the South Sudanese pound gaining strength against major world currencies and especially the US dollar hence renewing hopes for the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan as the prices in the markets responded downwards.

The R-ARCSS has a reform agenda enshrined in chapter four of the agreement making the R-ARCSS important and different from many other agreements dishonored as Hon. Abel Alier Kuai alludes to in his famous book about the Sudan agreements.

The R-TGONU is expected to undertake immediate and medium-term economic and financial management reform programs that will introduce a period of rapid reconstruction and development country wide. If the reforms are taken seriously, it will speed up the repatriation of refugees and IDPs as development will create hopes and attraction to people returning to their homes with security being the major catalyst.

On the business sector, investors will flock in big numbers to the country responding to the peaceful environment conducive for doing business which is characterized by peace, security and the rule of law. The youth on the other hand will get employed and subsequently improve their livelihoods while the government mutually benefits from collection of taxes (PIT) and social corporate responsibilities would have been exercised to the satisfaction of all the parties. All these benefits will be realized in an environment of sustainable peace where citizens are free to do business regardless of who they are and where they come from.

Chapter 4, Section 4.15 of the revitalized peace agreement provides important reform programs with different government institutions reformed including the Bank of South Sudan, the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Public Finance Management among other institutions that will improve the economy in the long run. Institutions of R-TGONU are expected to be stronger with smarter systems respected by leaders and public servants managing them. The worst case scenario in the 21st century is when public authorities are stronger than the systems and the institution they lead. This has been manifested in most corrupt countries in the world, the situation we do not wish to see in the Republic of South Sudan.

Section 4.15 continues to inform us of good things ahead including the establishment of Enterprise Development funds expected to improve the lives of small and medium enterprises in the country. The fund’s managers are tasked to identify local, sectorial or private associations with the view to improving their production/efficiency through capacity enhancement and easing access to financing.

The funds will further develop micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) among the rural population and the urban poor, including but not limited to South Sudanese Farmers Association, dairy producers’ associations, poultry producers’ associations national private companies in the areas of supply, general trade, construction and others. This is good news for the private sector if it is implemented according to the dictates of the text as per the R-ARCSS.

The government will implement recommendation of private sector development strategy (PSDS) developed jointly between the South Sudan business forum and Ministry of Trade and Industry that has provisions for establishing youth enterprise development fund with the goal to bring more youth into economic growth and development. The fund is also expected to establish a women’s enterprise development fund for the provision of subsidized credit for women based enterprise development and capacity of women entrepreneurs.

The revitalized peace agreement also aims to establish microfinance institutions, promote social welfare development policy, and establish a social security fund and it further aims to provide subsidized credit and capacity building for vulnerable members of the society.

The enterprise development fund success lies in the hands of both government and the development partners where a basket fund is created and stakeholders make tangible contributions to be used as revolving funds for start-ups and promotion of incubators project financing. The SMEs will access the funds through a competitive and transparent business plan competition where parties account for their actions during the administration of the revolving fund.

We cannot let go of this opportunity as most of the tasks are within our reach coupled with responsibility to implement the Revitalized peace agreement in letter and spirit for the benefit of the entire country and its people.

A peaceful South Sudan is a prosperous South Sudan.

Published in Good Vibes Magazine issue 1 , November 2019