South Sudan - Losing Power
The frequent buzz of the motorcycle taxis—boda-bodas—of Juba have diminished somewhat since I returned to the South Sudanese capital. The thumping of the generators that power the city are also somewhat more discrete.
For South Sudan is suffering from an acute fuel shortage, caused by the block—I want to say “-ade”, but that engenders an act of war—so we’ll say “-age” of trade routes between the north and south. Despite South Sudan’s impending independence, she still relies on the north for much of her supplies. And despite producing the majority of Sudan’s oil, the South relies on the north for its refinement, and therefore, domestic fuel supply. The conflict in South Kordofan and Abyei are, by no means, helping the situation.
Other routes are open, with neighbouring Kenya and Uganda, but a regional fuel crisis, partly as a result of the conflict in Libya, means that South Sudan’s problems are exacerbated by being at the end of that chain.
The “city power” is virtually non-existent much of the time. It’s source? Large diesel generators near the Nile. And establishments here are worried about their stock of diesel to keep their jennies running.
Getting around is a lot more expensive: petrol, the rarest of fuel-stuffs right now, is going for $10 a litre on the black-market. Many people, and in some cases, organisations, are having to ration their driving. Local watering holes are becoming more and more frequented compared to their farther flung competitors.
But the effect is rather more dramatic on those who have not the capacity to deal with commodity-price increases. Almost all of the products in local markets are imported; South Sudan’s agricultural sector is far from developed. And so with many good coming from neighbouring Uganda, any fuel-price increases mean an increase in food prices. An increase few southern Sudanese can afford.