South Africa’s ruling ANC party Tuesday urged African business to seize the opportunity to invest in South Sudan and not leave it to outsiders to develop the continent’s newest country.
“The biggest challenge at the moment is to develop South Sudan, is to ensure that Africa can come on board and enter that space and not leave it to other countries that come from the developed world only,” the African National Congress (ANC) chairwoman Baleka Mbete told journalists in Johannesburg.
Mbete was speaking on her return from Juba, where an ANC delegation attended the ceremony that saw South Sudan proclaim independence Saturday after five decades of conflict with the north.
The northeast African country has been born as one of the poorest countries in the world, left in ruins by a devastating civil war that claimed some 1.5 million lives.
Mbete made a special appeal to young African entrepreneurs to visit the country and find out what opportunities exist.
“I most definitely want to encourage business people. I really think African business people, South African business people, especially young people who still have a long life ahead of them, must go to South Sudan. There’s a lot they are going to discover they can do,” she said.
Mbete said the ANC’s task team on South Sudan will meet Monday to develop policies on the new country, with a view to making recommendations to the South African government.
South Sudan will likely be looking for allies on the continent as it continues negotiations with Khartoum over oil-rich border areas and the division of petroleum revenues.