The world’s newest country celebrates its first birthday this month, having achieved independence from Sudan one year ago. At the time the prospects for the future of the country were not bright: landlocked, with an uneasy relationship with its northern neighbour Sudan, very low educational levels, almost no infrastructure, and no obvious prospects for income other than through a single stream of oil revenues.
Not much has changed in the first year of the country’s life. The relationship with Sudan has deteriorated, with Sudan undertaking cross-border raids and South Sudan cutting off the flow of oil through the north in order to prevent Sudan tasking the lion’s share of profits. While the government has made some steps forward, there has been some serious corruption, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars.
On the other hand, the citizens of South Sudan still have the satisfaction of knowing they have a country of their own, with the freedoms associated with self-determination. While things in the country could be better, they could also be far worse. Many African countries have been independent for 50 years without achieving any significant economic growth. South Sudan is placing its reliance on the quick completion of an oil pipeline through Kenya, in order to turn the export dollars back on.