Transforming South Sudan

Africa Oil & Power talks to Luris Mulla about the role of the recently signed peace agreement, developing the country’s economy and creating opportunities for the people of South Sudan.

South Sudan recently celebrated a new peace agreement, what are your opinions on this?

I am very optimistic about this new deal because it focuses more at the economy than the previous deal did. The main reason why I am saying this is because the deal also includes an agreement with Sudan to resume oil production.

This then allows for an increase of oil production, an increase in revenue and an inevitable improvement in the economy, if managed well. For this reason, I think there is a lot to look forward to.

As a South Sudanese entrepreneur living in the diaspora, what does the new peace deal mean for you and other young entrepreneurs?

It means opportunity and stability. This stability allows room for opportunities, so this is a good starting point, and people living in the diaspora are looking for that opportunity.

It is an opportunity to build the state, the economy, to help create jobs and also to develop the business environment. There is so much opportunity and as an entrepreneur that is what we are always looking for.

As the youngest judge appointed by presidential decree during the time of the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, what are some of the major differences you can point out in the new peace deal?

There is a significant difference between the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the new peace agreement.

The 2005 peace agreement was at a time when we had not yet gained independence and were still one country. The agreement was between the people’s revolution movement; the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, and the central government.

What that agreement did was allow the people of South Sudan to have a referendum, which was to take place six years down the line. In 2011 the referendum was held and the people of South Sudan gained their independence.

With this new peace agreement, it is significantly different. During the war that took place between 1983 – 2005, we were fighting against an oppressive regime, we were fighting for identity, freedom and independence whereas this war was an internal wrangling with the SPLM/A ruling party, so it is more of a power struggle.

From a business standpoint, what will this transition mean for the role of commerce in South Sudan’s economic development?

It represents opportunity for domestic and foreign investment and an opportunity for South Sudan to integrate further into the region. As a member of the East African Community there is opportunity to access those markets.

Domestic investment creates an opportunity for the South Sudanese people to invest in different sectors and industries, build infrastructure and develop markets in their own country. The opportunity is abundant because of this transition.

A final message from Luris Mulla

We have had a long history filled with struggle and coming out of it I really feel that this new peace deal will bring in reforms and create a more stable environment that is good for investment.

To people who are interested in coming to South Sudan for business, I would say that they should give the country a chance because even the most powerful nations have had wars and overcome those wars, and South Sudan is not an exception.

We have been given a second chance and opportunity to turn things around and what I want the South Sudanese, and the friends of South Sudan to do now, is to focus more on the lessons to be learnt from this experience and missed opportunities.

To investors and people that want to come in, I want to say that South Sudan provides the space to be innovative, simply because it is the world’s youngest country.