South Sudan has signed a deal with neighboring Ethiopia that will see the two countries collaborate on a series of joint infrastructure projects aimed at connecting the landlocked South Sudan with the Port of Djibouti.
Building on from previously signed agreements centered on enhancing cross-border infrastructure, the new deal is set to significantly enhance East African trade and economic development.
Signed on September 20 during a high-level meeting between H.E. Taban Geng Gai, Vice-President of South Sudan and a group of Ethiopian ministers led by H.E. Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance, the deal aims to improve cross-border collaboration within the areas of energy, telecommunications, aviation, water and transportation among other key sectors, with priority granted to the development of cross-border road infrastructure to boost connectivity and trade.
“We comprehensively agreed to work on joint infrastructural connectivity that will overcome geographical barriers in terms of trade and logistics flows between our two countries and people-to-people relations,” stated H.E. Shide, adding that with the new deal, both South Sudan and Ethiopia will start advancing two road projects, thereby improving connectivity via Ethiopia through the Djibouti corridor.
“The projects will be financed jointly and we have agreed to finalize the feasibility and preparations in terms of selecting a contractor so that the joint financing mechanism will be worked upon,” H.E. Shide stated, adding that, “As soon as the preparations are completed, we will work together for resource mobilization and reaching out to development financial institutions as part of the Horn of Africa initiative.”
Speaking on behalf of the South Sudanese delegation, Hon. Michael Makuei Lueth, Minister of Information of South Sudan, stated that, “The agreed projects will be operationalized and put into consideration as soon as all the technical aspects are addressed. Trade can be facilitated by Ethiopia through the Djibouti corridor. We expect Ethiopia to support us so that we can grow and be as strong as Ethiopia is today.”
The deal follows on from a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between South Sudan and Djibouti at the fifth edition of South Sudan Oil & Power (SSOP) earlier this month, which saw both countries pursuing further collaboration in the areas of trade, investment and cross-border energy opportunities. Under the terms of the SSOP 2022 MoU, South Sudan has purchased three acres of land at the Port of Djibouti and will be constructing a facility to handle the importation and exportation of goods and energy-related products.
Now, with the country’s deal with Ethiopia and road construction, East African trade and commerce is expected to improve even further as intra-regional connectivity is enhanced and business opportunities expanded.