Regional initiative by some leaders of the East Africa to provide access and pipelines for landlocked South Sudan to pump its oil for export must be appreciated and supported as the umbilical cord or “invisible hand of God” to save and sustain South Sudanese from the bondage of Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.
In a meeting Kampala, Uganda, recently, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni all signed a memorandum to construct two pipelines across East Africa.
One of the pipelines would run from South Sudan to the Kenyan port city of Lamu, close to Somalia, while the second would transverse from Rwanda to Kenya’s main port of Mombasa.
The pipeline of interest is that envisaged to carry South Sudan crew oil since this would help the young country stop its reliance on Sudan for its oil exports.
After fighting for their independence from the Khartoum government for more than 20 years, Southern Sudan predominantly of Christians and animists finally became an independence state on 9 July 2011, thanks to a referendum organised and coordinated by the United Nations, UN.
However, South Sudan that owns 75 per cent of the oil fields of Sudan has constantly been at loggerheads with Muslim North Sudan over fee charges and security of access to exporting its oil at the port in the Red Sea.
All through, South Sudan exports its oil via Sudan that has refinery and exporting facilities, but there has been intermittent disruption of oil flow as a result of misunderstanding between the government of Khartoum and that of Juba on pricing and security concerns.
Following continuous tension on pipeline charges and disputed territory, especially in the Abyei region, in January 2012, South Sudan decided to stop its oil production.
However, in March 2013, the two nations that still maintain a hate-and-love relationship came out with a deal to resume production as Sudan suffered the consequences of the closure worst than South Sudan.
South Sudan still struggling
Even though independence, South Sudan’s woes are far from over, as internal disputes, such as sharing of oil revenues are hindering development efforts as well as scaring foreign investors.
The government of President Salva Kirr is at war with at least seven armed groups in 9 of its 10 states as tens of thousands of people are displaced and returning refugees from the decades of civil war dissuaded from returning home.
While the East African region pact is saluted and would benefit South Sudanese, the fighting groups must settle their problems amicably, especially as the country remains one of the poorest in the world even with abundance oil still to explore.
Aimless fighting brings more destruction and disruption to South Sudan, especially as decades of civil war had left the country ruined, with no infrastructural development as over 2.5 million were killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee to neighbouring countries.