South Sudan to move capital city despite oil shutdown

SOUTH Sudan will push ahead with a US$10 billion plan to build a new capital city despite losing nearly all its revenue when it shut oil production this year, a move that will dismay donors who see other priorities in the poor nation, an official said.

Report by Reuters
Western diplomats had in the past said they hoped to persuade the war-ravaged country to drop the project and focus its limited resources on pulling its population out of poverty.

 
South Sudan seceded from Sudan last year under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war. It is seen as one of the world’s least developed countries.

 
The African nation’s cabinet decided last year to relocate the seat of government from the scruffy boomtown Juba on the banks of the White Nile further north to Ramciel, in a swampy region in the central Lakes state.

 
The new government said it needed more space and wanted to build a modern city from scratch. The project would continue and be paid for in phases, Minister for Housing and Physical Infrastructure Jema Nunu Kumba said in an interview. The government was open to a public-private partnership for a project estimated to cost US$10 billion over 20 years, she added.

 
“We will work together with the private sector … All the infrastructure like the roads, the sewage, water — this is government.”

 
No one was immediately available for comment from international donors and aid agencies based in Juba who have already poured millions of dollars into development projects in South Sudan.

 
Kumba said the government had paid US$2,5 million to a South Korean company to carry out a six-month feasibility study on the new capital.