Financial services firm Stanbic Bank sponsored and hosted a discussion on regional integration, development and energy security during the South Sudan Oil & Power conference and exhibition – taking place in Juba this week – with speakers reiterating the role South Sudan plays as the engine for East African growth. The conversation focused on the practical measures needed to bolster energy security on a regional basis, with Stanbic Bank’s Head of Energy and Infrastructure, Maar Solomon Makuei making a strong case for downstream infrastructure development and broader integration across the sector.
“Because of where South Sudan is situated, the country is not only talking about exploration but also about a refinery to be able to supply the regional market. This is where South Sudan can play a role, so that the region relies on South Sudan,” Makuei said.
Elison Karuhanga, Partner, Kampala Associated Advocates reiterated this notion, stating that for East Africa, the need for connectivity, pipelines and producing products in South Sudan cannot be underestimated.
“This cross-border connectivity needs agreements: you need to put in place the necessary legal building blocks between the region. We must start thinking together and thinking big,” he said.
Integration represents the key for getting large-scale projects off the ground. According to Ashton Towler, CEO, WS Insight, the average cost of a refinery is $5 billion, and therefore, players need to assess the conditions that will enable $5 billion of investment to come into South Sudan.
“It all comes down to integration. Building a refinery in South Sudan is viable but in terms of safety and protection of investment, integration will bring a new level of security. Committed partnerships and treaties, investment agreements and structures, and integrating the community around major assets will be a major advantage for bringing that money in.”
Nilepet’s DG for JVs Majok Mabior believes that integration is critical for South Sudan as the country “faces several challenges, including the fact that we solely rely on one pipeline.” Considering regional conflict, Mabior noted that “we need to strategize to be able to open the market and build the infrastructure that will stimulate economic growth.”
However, South Sudan’s role across the regional market transcends oil, with Ricard Sandberg, CEO of Clena Sustainable Future stating that “to utilize resources, you need to work with environmental and ecological development as well.” In this area, South Sudan can leverage its position to maximize other high potential resources, thereby driving energy security on the back of sustainable resources.
“While oil is very important for South Sudan and it should continue with that, the country should also look for other sources of energy such as solar and wind,” Sandberg remarked.