Friday, 11 March 2011
North-South Sudan cooperation good for Uganda
By Swaib K. Nsereko (email the author)
Following successful regional elections in Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan (referendum) and Uganda, focus should now turn to mutual cooperation and stability. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton recently urged South Sudan even before it attains independence this July, to adopt a long-term security and economic programme with North Sudan. But it is more imperative upon Ugandans to encourage and exploit this relationship the more. Healthy economic ties between the two Sudans can benefit Uganda in many ways.
First, it will entail that the critical Abyei question in Sudan have a tenable political settlement. This would increase confidence in the viability of Ugandan economic interests in the entire Sudan region. Thousands of Ugandans doing business there will confidently engage in long-term partnerships with either Arab or black Sudanese.
The economic potential of the region is enough to foster good cooperation and the need to draw from each other’s experiences. In the spirit of inclusiveness, South Sudan can easily conclude some business concessions with the North so that Khartoum can retain willing South Sudanese in civil service there.
Increasing regional trade volume is crucial to insulating this region from the mass protests to change leaders as is happening in North African countries. Both Uganda and Sudan experience high birth rates and have young populations. No single country can adequately address its youth concerns without networking with regional or foreign efforts.
Today, there is a cargo ship operating between Port Sudan and Mombasa. It transports Ugandan coffee to Sudan, among other merchandise. However, to make the balance of trade more equitable, Ugandan traders need to learn from Sudan what can traded with Sudan. For example, there are cheaper electric cables and other electronic assortments in Sudan. Sudan also manufactures agricultural implements that are crucial in our desire to modernise agriculture.
During my recent trip to Khartoum, I realised that Sudan’s concise policy on science and technology studies can help boost our science revolution with, for instance, cheaper supplies of school laboratory equipment. Using the Port Sudan-Mombasa ship, such equipment and others can be obtained at a cost 50 per cent lower than if they imported from Europe, India or the Far East.
The deliberate official facilitation of regional trade and the science revolution (research and development) as intervention strategies will require the physical participation of our youth. And this can make them loath, rather than be inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt or Libya.
I also found that in Sudan, the potential to improve individual talent aimed at reducing poverty is highly respected and handsomely rewarded. For instance, a successful Sudanese soccer team is not anywhere near Manchester City or Real Madrid in terms of pay yet they are far better than the pathetic less than $100 pay to our local league players a month! It’s less wonder that giants like Al Hilal and Al Merreikh are full of South Sudanese.
Mr Nsereko is a Ugandan who frequently travels to Sudan