South Sudan — In my previous article; title: Stop Squatters, Land Grabbing, Occupation and Colonization Nonsense (South Sudan News Agency, March 22, 2013), I provided the facts and terms of agreement surrounding the Mukaya payams case in the state of Central Equatoria. The intention was to challenge the myth of land grab and occupation by Dinka and Western Nilotic former IDPS, politicians and army generals.
The recent call and push for federal system of government in the Republic of South Sudan by Equatoria governors, politicians, intellectuals as well as the assertion of right of self-determination for the eventual independent Republic of Equatoria (ROE) or Democratic Republic of Lado Enclave (DROLE) has been based in part, on the alledged Dinka political domination, systematic discrimination and marginalization of Equatorians, colonization and occupation of the Equatoria region by Western Nilotic and Dinka in particular.
In seven years of independent control, South Sudan has not diversified its economy. Now the domestic agricultural sector languishes and international agri-businesses procure land for export markets. This failure could fuel conflict, if real change is not made.
According to a recent report by the Oakland Institute, 'Understanding Land Investment Deals in Africa: South Sudan', a large influx of one-sided foreign investment has flooded into South Sudan. These unfair land deals undermine the land rights of rural communities, increase food insecurity, further entrench poverty, and might result in skewed development patterns in South Sudan. One case studied by the report involves an Egyptian equity firm, Citadel Capital.
As a USAID International Engagement Conference for South Sudan gets underway in Washington DC tomorrow and Thursday (Dec. 14 and 15), a new report cautions against foreign land investments that are being promoted as a solution for development in the new nation.
On July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) became the world’s newest nation. Despite the significant strides that South Sudanese have made since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, South Sudan remains one of the least developed countries in the world. In order to meet its developmental challenges, the government of South Sudan has begun promoting large-scale private investments as a shortcut to rapid economic development.
The largest land deal in South Sudan to date was negotiated between a Dallas, Texas-based firm, Nile Trading and Development Inc. (NTD) and Mukaya Payam Cooperative in March 2008. The 49-year land lease of 600,000 hectares (with a possibility of 400,000 additional hectares) for 75,000 Sudanese Pounds (equivalent to approximately USD 25,000), allows NTD full rights to exploit all natural resources in the leased land.