Despite the high hopes of the nearly 99% of electors who voted for secession in the 2011 referendum, few outsiders expected South Sudan’s transition to Independence to go smoothly. Some – including many journalists – sourly predicted the world’s ‘first pre-failed state’. However, the prospect of a substantial ‘peace dividend’, with development driven by oil exports and substantial post-war reconstruction assistance, held out the promise of a better future for its war-ravaged and poverty-stricken people. A year later, this promise has clearly not materialised.
At Independence in July 2011, South Sudan had an estimated per capita gross domestic product of over US$1,500, almost twice that of Kenya. The government’s 2011 budget was $2.3 billion. Aid receipts in 2010 reached almost $1 bn. The new country faces enormous challenges, including military confrontation with Khartoum over border delineation, an oil dispute which led to the Government of the Republic of South Sudan suspending oil production in January and the consequent loss of 98% of GRSS revenue, lack of infrastructure and capacity in almost every field, some of the world’s worst socio-economic indicators, an estimated four million displaced people, widespread food insecurity and massive corruption.
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