South Sudan is not just the youngest nation on earth today. It is being built from scratch. "The South Sudan has just come out of Africa's longest civil war. Owing to the war there was no focused development in the new country in the last 21 years," says George Conway, UNDP head in South Sudan.
"The two decades of civil war ensured nothing existed. After the signing of the CPA and the eventual coming of a new government before the referendum, all the ministries existed on paper only. The government is starting to build itself up from scratch. This is a brand-new state."
It is a Herculean task to construct a new landlocked nation the size of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda combined. The interest that the dawn of independence has generated for this new nation has spurred generosity from all corners of the world. Governments of Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, the US, China, India, the UAE, and even the World Bank, have loosened their purse strings for the new nation's entry into statehood. Since 2005, Washington has advanced to the South Sudanese government some $10bn, with much of this going into infrastructure development.
According to South Sudan's Ministry of Transport, for the country to be networked sufficiently to facilitate ease of commerce and trade, some 32,000km need to be tarmacked. The first phase covering some 5,000km is scheduled for 2012-2017; the second and third phases will cover 12,000km and 13,000 respectively. To undertake this massive construction $7bn is required. Over the past six years, 7,000km of road has been upgraded to gravel status linking the 10 states. In Juba, out of 350km, some 67km has already been tarmacked.
Excavators, graders and compactors are hard at work completing a key and strategic highway, the 193km Juba-Nimule highway, which is currently being tarmacked. Thanks to a $225m grant from USAID, the road is expected to be completed by February 2012. The Juba-Nimule road has been given the highest priority at present as it is the most efficient route to Mombasa port. Other link roads facilitating South Sudan's access into Ethiopia and Kenya are also nearing completion.
Heavy construction work is ongoing at Juba International Airport. The Ministry of Transport has set aside some $130m to revamp it by expanding its terminal, restoring navigational aids, extending the runway, building additional taxiways and a separate helipad. The other major airport in South Sudan is the Malakal Airport in...