Built against a backdrop of renewed peace and political stability, and as the country celebrates one decade of independence, South Sudan is driving the message that it is officially open for business. Accordingly, the second panel discussion on day two of South Sudan Oil & Power (SSOP) 2021, which took place in Juba last week, comprised an informative discussion regarding energy as the foundation for South Sudan’s peace and prosperity.
Moderated by Luris Muller, CEO, L Mulla Ltd., UK, key panelists included John Mukum Mbaku, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor of Economics and Attorney and Counsellor, Law at Weber State University, USA; Ene Macharm, Head of Component, Social Infrastructure and Energy Development GIZ Ethiopia; Mounir Bouaziz, Former VP Commercial South America and Africa for Shell and Managing Director, BEE, Enterprise DMC, UAE; Makear Michael Dot, CEO, Nile Petroleum Services Co, South Sudan; Emmanuel Longo, UNDP Special Skills Expert, Ministry of Labour, Republic of South Sudan; Jamal S. Peter Monduku, Founder & President, South Sudanese Geologist of Petroleum Association, South Sudan; Timilehin Iroko, Country Lead, Sahara Group; and Nhial Nhial Titmamer, Director of Environmental Department, Sudd Institute.
The panel discussion aimed to improve an understanding on energy production, representing the bedrock of South Sudan’s economy, which is considered important to any lasting peace settlement and economic plan in the country. By focusing on how the petroleum industry is contributing to South Sudan’s sustainable development, the panel discussed the role of oil in South Sudan’s future, driven by the country’s renewed peace and prosperity.
“Oil has become the backbone for development as it gives the government the power to deliver the services required by the population. To gain economic prosperity, we need to have the infrastructure in place. For us to talk about prosperity, and about giving the best life to the citizens of South Sudan, we need to talk about energy,” stated Dot.
“To be sustainable, one must use the resources in the future. We must use resources such as oil to invest in productive capacity. By using oil revenues to invest in substitute resources, such as renewable energy in which South Sudan has huge potential, we will create a capacity for future generation. Additionally, oil revenues can be used to provide services in the areas of education, health, water and electricity. We have realized that it is important to invest in the capacity of our people to meet their own needs so that even when oil is depleted, we will still be able to meet needs,” stated Titmamer.
While recognizing the role of oil, the panel introduced the challenge of reserve depletion, and thus, emphasized the value of renewable energy in ensuring sustainable long-term developments and offering a reliable, alternative fuel source for years to come. With significant renewable energy potential that remains untapped, South Sudan possesses a unique opportunity for both investors looking at high-rewarding markets, and the population seeking employment and economic opportunities.
“The current outlook for South Sudan’s renewable energy opportunities is quite good. What we are seeing now is that renewable energy costs have dropped and the uptake of developing countries is substantial. Renewable energy, achievable in conflict settings, has a huge transformative potential for South Sudan,” stated Macharm.
“We are going through an energy transition. The funds available for the development of oil are becoming a lot more difficult to access, or are not even available compared to renewable energies. Oil is still needed, but there will be a period where there will be more supply than demand and this should factor into the long-term plan for the country. Anywhere that you have solar and wind potential, you must develop now and not leave it for tomorrow<’ stated Bouaziz.
Additionally, the panel discussion provided insight into the value of local content and human development in South Sudan. By using both oil and renewable energy developments to drive job creation, skills transfer, and community development, accelerated socioeconomic growth can be realized.
“Development comprises two perspective; firstly, the national approach regarding how we work with government for peace and prosperity; and secondly, at the grassroots level. For international companies, especially exploration companies, there is a high expectation to give back to the community and invest in the communities in which they work. We understand that we can only develop the country from within, from the youths, and at the grassroots level,” stated Iroko.
“Government should emphasize and work on local content policy. Through the oil and gas industry, the South Sudan people can gain knowledge,” stated Monduku.
Finally, by opening a dialogue on the value of international investment for both South Sudan’s economic and sectoral development, the panel presented the country as open for business, and eagerly anticipating partnerships with global stakeholders.
“We identified 11 areas for reforms and are working with the Ministry of Petroleum. There are a lot of reforms that will be taking place in financial management human resources. A lot of training is needed and have international partners have already come in,” stated Longo.
“From the external context, we need to prioritize positive targeted storytelling. We need to tell our story outside of South Sudan. We should all be ambassadors to encourage foreign investors,” stated Mbaku.
Through an informative panel session that focused on driving a dialogue around the role of the oil industry, the emerging renewable energy industry, and the value of local content and human development in driving sustainable, long-term socioeconomic growth country wide.