There are still issues that remain to be solved


James Ninrew is a priest in a Presbyterian church in Juba, Sudan. He is also the leader of the non-governmental organisation Assistance Mission for Africa. In mid-February he came to Sweden to discuss the issue of compensation to the oil victims in South Sudan. In the following interview he explains what he thinks are the greatest challenges for the new state of South Sudan and which issues are the most important.


So James, what is happening right now?

– Right now the border area is very busy as we approach the day of liberation for South Sudan. However, preparation is in progress despite all the difficulties.

What needs to be done up until the independence?

– There are still issues to be resolved, such as the oil revenue and border harmonization. Then there is the whole issue of internet connection, telephone communication etc. but indications hint that they may not be resolved before independence.

What are the most important things for the actual independence to be successful?

– It is not going to be easy. Declaring the independence is the most important thing. Then of course to establish a democratic way of running the country and how to relate to our new neighbours.

What is most important for the new state to be successful? 

– The direction is important. Many countries in Africa have problems with corruption. A democratic process is now in development. South Sudan is a multiethnic group of people and the president and the leadership needs to take that into consideration, to balance the representation. Otherwise this can cause a lot of harm and eventually lead to war. We need to develop our own economic power so we can depend on ourselves.  We need to invest in agriculture. In terms of policies we need to develop good relationships with our neighbouring countries. We need to make peace internally, people are still carrying arms. Also, of course, we in the civil society need to work to achieve these goals.

What sectors should be invested in?

– The agriculture is the most important thing to develop. We have great resources to develop a productive agricultural industry. We have the rain and we have the water so we could cultivate all year long. South Sudan could become the breadbasket of the Arab world. Other sectors that we could develop are the fishing industry and the exploration of our natural resources.

What will happen when the oil runs out?

– In 4-5 years from now it will reduce and we need to find another way. The revenue income from oil could develop other sectors, such as agriculture and education, so that once it is finished we have developed other sectors.

What can Sweden do for South Sudan?

– There are a lot of needs obviously. We will need capacity building to develop migration policies. A lot of investors are coming to South Sudan to take advantage of the country and we need expertise to battle this. There is also the danger of terrorist groups. Al-Qaeda is just on our doorstep and South Sudan is very vulnerable right now.

We also need technical expertise to develop the education system, especially higher education, we do not have a stable system right.

Our own economic resources are the oil. We also have other minerals such as copper and gold and we need help to explore these minerals. We also need to learn how to  develop our agriculture and our fishing industry.

What projects are you running now at Assistance Mission for Africa?

– We are currently running 3 programs. The first is water and sanitation for the communities who are in places where you cannot access water. The second is the elderly in cooperation with Nuer Peace council. Number three is education, to build the capacity of the schools.



Med bara veckor kvar till den 9 juli då det nya landet Sydsudan utropar sin självständighet är förberedelserna för maktövertagandet i full gång. Men mycket arbete återstår fortfarande för att den nya statsbildningen ska bli framgångsrik. Det säger prästen och lokale ledaren James Kuong Ninrew i en intervju.

– Befolkningen i Sydsudan är multietnisk och presidenten och ledarna måste ha detta i åtanke och balansera representationen. Annars kan det leda till krig.

Sydsudans ekonomi är helt beroende av oljan men oljekällorna väntas sina inom en tioårsperiod. James Kuong Ninrew anser att landets ledning ska satsa oljepengarna på att utveckla jordbruket och hoppas att Sydsudan i så fall kan bli arabvärldens nya kornbod.

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