IFC’s First Investment in South Sudan Critical for Young Country’s Growth
IFC has made its first investment in South Sudan, Africa's newest country, in support of a large commercial building in Juba. South Sudan is working to build a strong private sector and diversify its economy away from the dominant oil sector.
Diversifying the economy is especially important for South Sudan, as the country shut off oil production in January after reaching a deadlock on oil-sharing with Sudan.
During his first visit to South Sudan in mid-May 2012, EVP and CEO Lars Thunell signed a $5 million loan agreement with UAP Properties Ltd. to help the company build the "Equatoria Tower," a 12-story structure that will provide much-needed office and retail space in the country.
South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state is a 30 percent shareholder in UAP Properties Ltd, making Juba’s first tall commercial building partly domestically owned.
Thunell said, “South Sudan is facing many serious challenges, both as a fragile state and as a newly-founded country. IFC is committed to supporting South Sudan’s efforts to build a strong and diverse private sector that will act as a foundation for future growth and job creation.”
South Sudan’s Minister of Commerce, Garang Diing Akuong, said, “We are writing history today. This building will change the skyline of our country. [After the conflict], many investors were skeptical of South Sudan, but we are now breaking that skepticism.”
While visiting the country, Thunell met with President Salva Kir, officially opened the IFC office in Juba, and congratulated the government for passing 19 IFC-supported laws that are making it easier to register and run businesses in the country.
With IFC’s support, South Sudan has made good progress creating an attractive investment climate, but the country remains desperately short of infrastructure.
IFC is stepping up its support for fragile states in Africa, where the risks are great but the effects of developmental impact can be even greater. Through its Conflict Affected States in Africa (CASA) Initiative, IFC is supporting recovery and private sector growth in seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Through CASA, IFC is focusing its advisory expertise on some of the most difficult and least developed countries in the world, helping them set the conditions for growth that will attract investment and spur job creation. The goals are economic growth – and to prevent a return to conflict.
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