South Sudan’s Socio-Economic Path Out of Fragility

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International security concern vs state building

When South Sudanese celebrated the opportunity to embark on rebuilding the country, the new and overriding motive for some members of the international community to engage in fragile states is because of concern over the security threat posed by failed and weak states. Some address the issue of fragile states as a combined security and military problem; others see it primarily as poverty and economic development issue. The UK’s strategy seeks to address the underlying causes of conflict and to invest in structural development seem to focus disproportionately more on security concerns, are more readily willing to send in UN peacekeeping and protection forces and to finance military operations against terrorists. There is the legitimate worry that the country’s territory would become a launching pad to pursue terrorists (e.g. Mr Konyi the fugitive Ugandan rebel and Islamist terrorists) and could include political opponents turned rebels making it harder to win over locals rather than investing equally in all aspects of the new deal. A risk-averse peacekeeping and regional protection force will have little chance of making a meaningful contribution to stabilisation, the protection of civilians or peace implementation processes (ODI). This could undermine the legitimacy and role of the UN and its mandated Regional Protection Force (RPF). Even more, security coordination and operations between UN peacekeeping forces, the RPF and South Sudanese security can further tarnish the independence of the peacekeeping operations given that the Dinka lead the entire security institutions in the country.
Most observers agree with Dr Menkhaus on the need for agreed-upon typologies of state fragility and the current failure to facilitate coordinated and purposeful planning. These make it difficult to say with any certainty which fragile states should receive what type of support and when and how they should receive it. Lessons learned is that business as usual’ does not work in fragile and conflict-affected situations (ODI 2010) . Going to recommend that:

“Innovative approaches are needed to promote development and humanitarian action, integrating wider security, governance and legitimacy concerns. And at the heart of all of this lie questions of power and politics. Donors need to learn the lessons of what works and what does not and act on them. The key lessons include those on the role and importance of understanding and working with political settlements; engaging with and building on local civilian capacity; and the fact that transitions take time and require a long-term commitment.” End quote

Growing out of fragility

South Sudan depends on imports for virtually all manufactured goods and much of its food. That is why its strategy to feed its towns and catch up with its neighbours must be about putting in place the structures, rules and policies that capture latecomer advantages and innovations in agriculture production, food security, energy and renewables by restructuring the country’s economy and building infrastructure in support of its production and value chains. In the midst of conflict and humanitarian emergency, it is essential to respond in ways that will enable refugees and internally displaced people to withstand impending shocks by integrating climate change mitigation strategies in the form authorities respond to an emergency as programmes unfold instead of waiting to do so in a post-conflict situation.
The nation now finances its export transactions through a combination of oil exports and foreign aid, making it arguably a deeply “globalised” economy already. Albeit one sensitive to corruption given that different rent-seekers and their political enablers have captured the market and are accused of shaping economic and fiscal policy decisions. Critics point to the Central Banks failure to issue and uphold stringent regulations to control private banks and their lending processes. The financing situation is dire. The country according to the World Bank 2017 Update now display all the signs of macroeconomic collapse as output is contracting, and inflation and parallel exchange market premium are spiralling.
One reason why fighting poverty remains a challenge is because of “ineffective rules”. Both those captured in-laws of the country and those caught in norms of the society. It demonstrates why people who live in the poorest countries are the ones who suffer most obviously from ineffective rules (Romer, P., ATDF 2012). The most pressing task is to find ways to adopt regulations that are already known to work much better—rules that would keep South Sudanese safe and allow them to access the prosperity-generating technologies that exist elsewhere in the world

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