Introduction – why the economy matters
South Sudan faces three major and interlinked crises: a political crisis which is manifest in part in violent conflict and insecurity; a humanitarian crisis which feeds off the political crisis and; an economic crisis, which is fundamentally about how the resources available to South Sudan are allocated and used.
While it is possible to ruin an economy very quickly, sustainably growing and developing an economy in a way that benefits the majority of the people takes decades. It has been said, “that it takes as long to get out of a conflict as it took to get in”. Given that South Sudan has only experienced 11 years of peace since 1955, 30 years into the future may not be enough time for South Sudan to have emerged completely from the devastation of violent conflict.
This note is necessarily speculative and aims to pose important questions, rather than seeking to provide firm answers. South Sudan’s economy is poorly understood, and it is difficult to project forward changes even just a few years ahead, never mind decades. Nonetheless, a growing and diversified economy is essential for reducing income poverty and providing the greater resources needed for the South Sudanese to address other dimensions of poverty, whilst moving toward a more stable and peaceful future. Inclusive economic growth will be critical and distributive policies will matter.